Explosions from Israeli airstrikes rocked Gaza throughout the night. (Special to WAFA)
GAZA, August 9, 2018 (WAFA) – A pregnant mother and her toddler were among three Palestinians killed early Thursday in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip that started late Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health.
The ministry said Inas Mohammad Khammash, 23, and her daughter, Bayan, 18 months, were killed and Inas’ husband, Mohammad, was injured between moderate and serious when Israeli war planes struck Ja’afarawi area in the central Gaza Strip.
A third person identified as Ali Ghandour, 30, was also killed in the after midnight strikes on Gaza, said the ministry, which added that 12 people were brought to hospitals with injuries, among them two were critical.
The escalation started late Wednesday, a day after Israel shot and killed two Hamas operatives in Gaza after claiming they fired at an Israeli army border patrol, a story Israel later changed and said it could not confirm that shots were ever fired at the patrol.
Reaction from the fighters in Gaza came a day after the incident when shots were fired from Gaza at an Israeli army patrol on the border causing damage to the vehicle but no injuries.
Israel reacted with airstrikes and shelling of over 140 locations in Gaza that caused the killing of the pregnant mother and her toddler and the injury of the husband, among others.
Fighters responded with a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel causing few light injuries and damage to property.
The escalation, which shattered recent efforts to reach a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, revived efforts by intermediaries, such as Egypt and the United Nations, to de-escalate the situation.
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, expressed deep alarm in a statement issued early Thursday at the escalation.
"I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel,” he said.
“For months I have been warning that the humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risk a devastating conflict that nobody wants. The UN has engaged with Egypt and all concerned parties in an unprecedented effort to avoid such a development.
“Our collective efforts have prevented the situation from exploding until now. If the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people,” he said.
Mladenov said he will continue “working hard to ensure that Gaza steps back from the brink, that all humanitarian issues are addressed and that Egyptian-led efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation succeed."
Meanwhile, the Palestinian government called on the international community to intervene and put an end to what it described as “Israeli aggression” against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
Government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud said in a statement issued on Thursday that the Israeli government and the United States are fully responsible for “the serious escalation” in Gaza and the continuation of the 12-year long Israeli blockade, which he said has resulted in critical deterioration in living conditions in Gaza.