Toddler and her pregnant mother are killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

A Palestinian toddler and her pregnant mother were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza early Thursday, officials in the strip said, as Israel hit a series of sites in retaliation for ‘more than 150 rockets and mortar bombs’ allegedly fired from the strip.

Enas Khammash, 23, and her 18-month-old daughter Bayan were killed in an airstrike in Jafarawi in central Gaza, the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled strip said, while her husband was injured.

The Israeli military said its aircraft struck 140 facilities belonging to Hamas, but offered no further comment on the casualties.

The deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed in a night of violence to three, again raising fears of a new war between the foes.

At least one Israeli was injured as Hamas and other groups fired dozens of rockets at the Jewish state late Wednesday.

Israeli strikes subsequently hit a series of targets, including killing a Hamas militant.

The United Nations late Wednesday called on the sides to step ‘back from the brink’.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

In yesterday’s skirmishes, smoke plumes could be seen rising from Gaza City following the military’s announcement it was targeting ‘terror sites in the Gaza Strip’.

The strikes came after two rockets launched from the coastal enclave hit the town of Sderot, near Gaza’s northern border, police and the army said.

One person was lightly wounded by shrapnel while several others were treated for shock in Sderot, the United Hatzalah medical service said.

Sirens were sounded in several areas close to the border with Gaza, warning residents to seek immediate shelter, the Israeli army said.

‘As of now, 36 rocket launches were identified from Gaza towards Israel,’ the army wrote on Twitter.

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

Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming from the long-blockaded coastal territory.

Israeli television broadcast images of a house and cars reportedly damaged by the rockets in Sderot.

Parts of the town have been closed off and police bomb disposal units were at the scene of the strikes, a spokesman for the force said.

The strikes came after two fighters from the military wing of Hamas, which rules Gaza, were killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday.

Hamas warned Israel — with which it has fought three wars since 2008 — it would pay for the attack.

The escalation comes after the Hamas leadership convened for a rare meeting in Gaza on Friday.

The gathering had raised hopes a deal for a lasting truce with Israel, with the backing of Egypt and the United Nations.

Clashes along the Gaza border since the end of March have seen at least 160 Palestinians killed by Israeli fire.

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