Israeli air strikes 'kill woman and toddler'

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset

Throughout the night, wave after wave of alarms sounded in the Hof Ashkelon, Sha'ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, outside Gaza, sending thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters, where many bedded down for the night with their families.

At least three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old child, were killed by Israeli air attacks and artillery shelling on the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

A Hamas militant was also killed in one of the strikes, while at least 12 people in Gaza were reportedly injured, health officials said.

IDF confirmed striking targets in Gaza on Wednesday in response to two rockets from Gaza which fell in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, lightly injuring two people according to medics at the scene.

Smoke plumes rising following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, on August 8, 2018.

Gaza residents reported several Israeli airstrikes after the Palestinian rocket barrage.

The majority hit open areas while four were intercepted, it said.

Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Strip, named the dead man as Ali Ghandour, saying he was a member of the group's armed wing.

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Hamas's military wing said it was behind the rocket attacks.

Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014.

It said about 150 rockets had been launched from Gaza towards Israeli territory.

The nearly daily airborne arson attacks have been part of months of weekly border protests led by the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza aimed in part at drawing attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after it took control of the territory in 2007.

They also demand an end to Israel's 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

The gathering had raised hopes a deal for a lasting truce with Israel, with the backing of Egypt and the United Nations. The IDF later suggested the incident was a misunderstanding, as the tank returned fire in response to the shots fired as part of a ceremony of the al-Qassam Brigades, which were not deliberately aimed at Israeli soldiers, Haaretz reported. One of the jets struck a factory that was being used to produce components intended for the construction of terrorist tunnels leading into Israel, the army said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of the security cabinet due to the growing tensions in the Gaza Strip which was attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and senior commanders.

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