Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Thursday that five Palestinians were killed and at least 40 residents, including children, were wounded in several Israeli air strikes and a ground attacks that were initiated on Thursday at noon. A fighter of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement, was killed when the army bombarded al-Shouka area, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The fighter was identified as Saleh al-Tarabeen.
Three residents, identified as Mohammad al-Mahmoum, 22 years old, Mosâab al-Soufy, 17, and Khaled ad-Dabary, 23, were killed when the army bombarded al-Jaradat area in Rafah.
On Thursday at noon, resident Mahmoud al-Manasra, 50, was killed, and at least five residents, including a child, were injured when the army fired more than 20 artillery shells into al-Shijaeyya neighborhood, east of Gaza City.
Furthermore, four Palestinians were moderately wounded when the army fired three shells into the Gaza International Airport in Rafah. The airport remains nonoperational since 2000, and was repeatedly bombarded and bulldozed by the army.
The army also bombarded several homes east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip; causing damage; no injuries were reported.
One child was wounded by an Israeli artillery shell that hit al-Qarara area, east of Khan Younis.
The Israeli Air Force fired missiles at a training camp using by the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and also bombarded an open area close to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.
In southern Gaza, the army fired a missile at a local ambulance causing damage and mildly wounding the driver.
Medical sources reported that another ambulance was targeted by the Israeli Air Force in Rafah, and that eight Palestinians, including children, were wounded.
Five Palestinians, including a journalist, identified as Mohammad al-Madhoun, were wounded when the army bombarded a police training base west of Jabalia, in northern Gaza. The reporter was seriously wounded.
A Palestinian farmer was also wounded when the Israeli Air Force fired missiles into the al-Waha area, north west of Gaza city.
Several Air Strikes also targeted areas east of Dir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, and al-Hawouz area in addition to the al-Rantissi Base, north of Gaza, leading to excessive damage.
Visiting Cairo, Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Dr. Saeb Erekat, told the Ma’an News Agency that the Israeli threats and escalation jeopardize the security of the region, and that Israel must halt all of its violations against the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile, Israeli Army spokesperson, Avichai Adraee, told Ma’an that the army is evaluating the situation and could resort to a larger scale attack against Gaza.
He added that âwhat the army is conducting right now is only a routine operation that precedes a larger attackâ likely to be carried out after the army and the political leadership in Israel evaluate the situation.
Adraee further stated that the Hamas movement is responsible for the latest escalation.
Also on Thursday, two Israelis, including a school student, were wounded when a shell fired from Gaza hit a school bus in southern Israel.
Furthermore, the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas fired shells at the Sofa military base, near the Gaza border.
The Brigades said that attack comes in retaliation to the assassination of three fighters who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli army chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, visited the military base and toured the area speaking to locals urging them to remain calm, adding that âthe army will do whatever it can to ensure their security, even if this means a military operation against Gazaâ.
Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, said that the army is acting against the attacks and will do whatever it can to ensure they stop.
He further stated that the Iron Dome system that was installed to intercept shells fired from Gaza is operational, but added that Israel cannot claim that the system provides full protection.
On Thursday night, approximately at 11, Palestinian factions in Gaza declared a ceasefire while Israeli tanks were seen moving towards the border area.