Israel kills 18 Palestinians in 24 hours

By Xinhua

Gaza/Ramallah : The Israeli army killed within the last 24 hours 18 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in an unprecedented escalation of violence, Palestinian medics said Thursday.

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Mo’aweya Hassanein, chief of emergency and ambulance service in the Palestinian ministry of health, said that a total of 18 Palestinians were killed in the last 24 hours, among them 15 were killed in the Gaza Strip and three in the West Bank.

He added that among the 18 killed, four were children including a five-month-old infant from the Gaza City. The other 14 were militants.

Hamas police said in a leaflet that eight of the killed were Hamas militants while two others belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees and three from the al-Aqsa Brigades in Nablus and one from Islamic Jihad (Holy War).

Deposed Prime Minister of Hamas-led government in Gaza Ismail Haneya on Thursday condemned the Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, saying “targeting and killing the children is an indication of the hysteria that hit the Israeli leadership,” referring to the killing of four children in the airstrikes.

“The Israeli aggressions and bombing the governmental buildings and the civil institutions will not weaken the will and endurance of the Palestinian people,” he added.

The Israeli escalation came in retaliation for the killing of one Israeli citizen on Wednesday in a homemade rocket attack launched by Palestinian militants at a house in the town of Sderotin southern Israel.

The tit-for-tat between Israel and Palestinian militant groups continued on Thursday. Israel struck several targets with air-to-ground missiles, while Palestinian militants continued launching rockets at Israel.

Hamas movement’s armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades on Thursday claimed responsibility for attacking Israeli communities close to Gaza Strip by homemade (Qassam) rockets. No injuries were reported.