August 20, 2018
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Israeli airstrikes kill 3 in Gaza

Deir al-Balah (Gaza), Aug 9 (efe-epa).- Three people were killed in the Gaza Strip after Israel launched 140 airstrikes with fighter jets in response to more than 150 rockets that had allegedly been launched by Palestinian militias, raising tension in the embattled enclave, officials said Thursday.

A 23-year-old pregnant woman and her toddler were killed and her husband was wounded when an Israeli missile fell on their house in Deir al-Balah, according to Gaza's Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra.

"I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today's multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel," said Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations' Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

"I have been warning that the humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risks a devastating conflict that nobody wants," Mladenov added.

Another Palestinian, a 30-year-old militant of the Islamist movement Hamas, was killed after Israeli airstrikes hit his vehicle a few hours earlier.

"The strike was conducted in response to the rockets launched from Gaza at Israel throughout the night," the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) tweeted. "We are determined to secure the safety of Israelis, is on high alert, & prepared for a variety of scenarios. Hamas is responsible & bears the consequences for the ongoing events," it added.

Israeli forces carried out more than 140 strikes on Hamas targets.

"Among the sites targeted were a weapons manufacturing & storage facility, a complex used for the Hamas' naval force, & a military compound used for rocket launching experiments," the IDF added.

The Israeli forces claimed that 150 rockets had been launched towards them since Wednesday – 80 of them since midnight – of which 25 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile shield system.

Most of the remaining projectiles fell in open areas, however several of them hit inhabited areas and injured at least six people.

Yuval Steinitz, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, said the government was not eager for war nor an extension of the confrontation but was also firm that no concessions would be made to Hamas.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu was set to call a cabinet meeting on Thursday to assess the crisis.

Israel's emergency medical service Magen David Adom evacuated three wounded people, including a toddler.

Hours earlier, three wounded people in Sderot city were given medical attention, while another 13 were treated for anxiety attacks, the service said.

Mladenov expressed extreme concern over escalating tensions in Gaza and its surrounding regions and called for calm, warning of disastrous consequences if it was allowed to go on.

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