Israel-Gaza conflict: Child's death unleashes new Israeli rocket attacks

As a four-year-old boy is buried, the bombardment of Gaza resumes

The residents of Gaza were warned of what to expect. In messages delivered by leaflet, voicemail and text messages to those living in the besieged coastal enclave, Israel said there would be another onslaught; another escalation in a direct response to the killing of an Israeli child hours before.

Four-year-old Daniel Tregerman became the first Israeli child to be killed near Gaza on Friday. Yesterday, renewed air strikes were carried out by Israel, as dozens of militants fired rockets into the Jewish state.

The Israeli army said it was preparing to attack "terrorists and terror infrastructure", telling Palestinians to stay away from areas where rockets were being fired into Israel. "Any house that is used to wage attacks against Israel will be targeted," read the leaflets in Gaza. "The mission is still ongoing; Beware."

With no end in sight to the deadliest violence between the sides in years, Egypt yesterday attempted to restart the ceasefire talks, but with little apparent success.

After Daniel was killed at an Israeli kibbutz near the Gaza border, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said: "In this difficult moment, I wish to strengthen the people of Israel. Hamas will pay a heavy price for this terrible terrorist attack. The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] and the Shin Bet [intelligence agency] will intensify their operations against Hamas and the terrorist organisations in Gaza until the goals of Operation Protective Edge will be reached."

The boy, who is due to be buried at 9am local time today, was the first Israeli child to die, but more than 460 children have been killed in Gaza by Israeli bombardment during the six-week war, according to Unicef.

Israel initially claimed that the mortar that killed Daniel had been fired from near a school used as a shelter by the UN Relief and Works Agency. Two hours later, Peter Lerner, the IDF spokesman, retracted the claim, saying the rocket had been fired from a Hamas shelter.

Daniel's parents, Gila and Doron Tregerman, were reported to have left their home in the south due to rocket fire from Gaza, but decided to return just a few days ago. The whole Tregerman family was at home when the mortar was fired on Friday. According to local reports, when sirens sounded, the parents got their two youngest children into a shelter, but Daniel was still outside when the mortar struck.

Health officials in Gaza said five people, reportedly members of the same family – including two children aged three and four – were killed in an Israeli strike on a house in central Gaza yesterday. The Israeli military said it bombed about 20 targets.

A Palestinian boy (left) cries in panic as other members of his family discuss what to do after they ran out of their house in a hurry in Gaza City moments after receiving a call from Israel telling them to leave because a military bombing nearby was imminent A Palestinian boy (left) cries in panic as other members of his family discuss what to do On Friday, Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza executed 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. The Independent Commission for Human Rights, a Palestinian rights group, said there were two women among those killed.

Masked militants dressed in black executed seven suspected collaborators, shooting the hooded and bound victims in a busy square outside a mosque. The deaths followed the killing of 11 alleged informers at an abandoned police station.

The crackdown on suspected collaborators followed the killing of three of Hamas's most senior military commanders in an Israeli air strike on Thursday, an attack that required precise on-the-ground intelligence on their whereabouts.

On Friday, Israel's military spokesman, Brigadier General Motti Almoz, warned Palestinians living near weapons stockpiles in Gaza to leave their homes. "We are intensifying our attacks," he said, adding that Israel was "preparing for possible ground action".

Israel pulled ground forces out of Gaza more than two weeks ago, after saying it had destroyed a network of Hamas tunnels used for cross-border ambushes. But Mr Netanyahu last week granted provisional approval for the call-up of 10,000 army reservists, signalling the possibility of heightened military action.

In a separate development yesterday, Hamas leaders said they had given their consent for a Palestinian bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move that could open up both Israel and the militant group to war crimes probes over the fighting in Gaza.

 

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas leader based in Cairo, said he had signed a document that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, says all factions must endorse before he proceeds with the ICC push. If the Palestinians were to sign the ICC's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the court would have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Palestinian territories.

Events as far back as mid-2002, could be examined, the date the ICC opened with a mandate to try individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

A hesitant Mr Abbas has debated for months whether to join the court, a step that could transform his relations with Israel from tense to openly hostile, strain his ties with the US and deprive his government of badly needed Western financial support.

Explaining the group's decision to sign up to the ICC, Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas official, said: "There is nothing to fear, the Palestinian factions are leading legitimate resistance in keeping with all international laws and standards. We are in a state of self-defence."

But Israel says Hamas has committed war crimes by firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately at Israeli towns and cities and by using Gazans as human shields. "Hamas hides behind the people of Gaza and fires at Israel with the aim of carrying out massacres of its civilians. That is a double war crime... while Israel does not deliberately harm civilians," Mr Netanyahu was reported to have told the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, yesterday.

Yesterday, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian man who entered a forbidden security zone on the Gaza side of the fence, The Jerusalem Post reported. The man was spotted approaching the fence, and after warning shots were fired in the air, he was then struck in his legs by gunfire.

Reuters

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