As Gaza reaches for a fragile ceasefire, dead babies form a chunk of the victims
As Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets into Southern Israel on Sunday and Israel retaliated, two pregnant ladies and two babies were reportedly among the casualties that took place after a fresh round of violence broke out between Israel and the militants. Before the tentative ceasefire was brokered in the early hours of Monday morning, the disputing countries saw the bloodiest fighting since the weeks-long 2014 war, according to the Associated Press.
With Palestinian militants threatening to send rockets deeper into Israel and Israeli reinforcements massing near the Gaza frontier, the fighting showed no signs of slowing down. Israel claims that Palestinian militants fired over 600 rockets into the country by Sunday, with most falling into open landscape or being blocked by the Iron Dome rocket-defence system. However, over 30 of these rockets hit urban areas, according to the Israeli army, killing four citizens in the attack and injuring others.
After three days of constant fighting, it is now being reported that Egypt had negotiated a truce between the two sides. While Palestinian officials confirmed the news, Israeli officials have not broken their silence over whether a pause to the fighting had been agreed upon.
Israel and Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel's destruction, have fought three wars since Hamas violently seized control of Gaza from Western-backed Palestinian forces in 2007. They have fought numerous smaller battles, most recently two rounds in March.
Later this week, Israel marks Memorial Day, one of the most solemn days of the year, and its festive Independence Day. Next week, Israel is to host the Eurovision song contest. Prolonged fighting could overshadow these important occasions and deter foreign tourists. The arrival of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday, does not seem to be deterring Hamas.
President Donald Trump warned Gaza militants that "these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery." ''We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens...." he tweeted. "END the violence and work towards peace - it can happen!"
Those killed in Israel include Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old Israeli father of four, who was fatally struck in the chest by shrapnel in a residential courtyard, a 49-year-old man killed when a rocket hit a factory and two men whose vehicles were hit by two separate missiles. The Israeli deaths were the first rocket-related fatalities since the 2014 war, when 73 people, including six civilians, were killed on the Israeli side. (With AP inputs)