Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip killed two militant commanders Thursday, while a 70-year-old man was killed by Palestinian rocket fire in the first fatality inside Israel amid the current wave of fighting. The continuing bloodshed, which has left 30 Palestinians dead, came despite Egyptian efforts to broker a cease-fire.
It has been the worst bout of fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza in months, with at least 10 civilians — mostly women and children — among the dead. The conflagration, now in its fourth day, comes at a time of soaring tensions and spiking violence over the past year in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian militants launched unrelenting rocket barrages into Israel throughout the day. One rocket struck an apartment block in the central Israeli city of Rehovot, killing a 70-year-old man, the MADA rescue service said. It said four others were moderately wounded.
Earlier Thursday, Israeli military pressed ahead with its strikes against the Islamic Jihad militant group and said a senior commander in charge of the group’s rocket launching force, Ali Ghali, was killed when his apartment was hit.
Later in the day, Israel said it killed another Islamic Jihad commander who was meant to replace Ghali in southern Gaza. Islamic Jihad confirmed the man, Ahmed Abu Daqqa, was one of its commanders.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said at total of 30 people had have been killed since the fighting erupted. An Associated Press tally showed that among the dead were 14 militants, including at least five Islamic Jihad commanders; 10 civilians; and six others, including four who Israel says were killed in failed rocket launches, whose affiliation remained uncertain.
Late Thursday, the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said its preliminary investigations indicated that three Palestinians, including two children aged 8 and 16, died when “homemade rockets had fallen short” inside Gaza in three incidents. It said 26 other people were wounded in these cases.