Clashes Between Israel And Gaza Intensify As Death Toll Rises
(NYT) – Fighting between Israel and Gaza escalated rapidly on Sunday in the worst combat since the last full-blown war in 2014. Three Israeli civilians were killed in Palestinian rocket and missile attacks and Israeli forces began to take aim at individual Gaza militants, killing at least seven.
The three Israelis killed were the first civilians to die in clashes with Gaza since the two sides fought a brief war in the summer of 2014. Gaza health officials said 15 people had been killed since Friday, though Israel denied responsibility for two of those deaths.
One Palestinian rocket struck an Israeli cement factory in the southern city of Ashkelon, killing a Bedouin worker there. A man was killed near Or Haner, a tiny kibbutz two miles from the Gaza border, when the truck he was driving in was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza. A third Israeli was killed in the early morning when he left his safe room for a cigarette break, his brother said.
Israel responded first by destroying what it said were the homes of several Palestinian militant commanders and then by following through on a longstanding threat — one heard more frequently in recent days from hawkish politicians — to start killing individual fighters in targeted attacks.
An airstrike that destroyed a car in Gaza City killed a man who the Israeli military said had been responsible for large transfers of cash from Iran to Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules the territory, and to a rival faction in Gaza, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israel said the man, Ahmad Hamed Al-Khudary, 34, owned a money exchange company that it designated a terrorist organization last June.
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