Pregnant mother and child killed as conflict between Israel, Hamas escalates

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A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the Israeli attacks overnight on Wednesday, as was a Hamas militant, Gaza medical officials said.

Twelve Palestinians were lightly wounded in previous strikes, and another 18 were wounded when what Palestinians said was a cultural center was hit by an Israeli airstrike, Palestinian health ministry officials said.

Following a well-worn pattern, The New York Times is again downplaying Palestinian belligerence, this time obscuring the fact that intensive Palestinian rocket attacks against southern Israel prompted a wave of Israeli airstrikes on Hamas site in the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours.

Air raid sirens signaling incoming rocket fire wailed across southern Israel throughout Thursday, with warnings going off in the southern city of Beersheba for the first time since the 2014 war.

The State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs Heather Nauert told reporters that Israel was justified in responding with force to Hamas projectiles targeting Israeli towns and cities.

The Said Meshal Cultural Centre confirmed on its Facebook page the offices in Gaza City had been destroyed, saying the building also hosted offices for the Egyptian community in Gaza.

The building was not publicly known to include facilities for Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas.

On the Israeli side, at least seven people were wounded.

After four hours of discussion about the escalation in the south and the hard situation in which Israelis there are living, Israel's Ministerial Committee on National Security instructed the IDF to "continue to act with force against terrorist elements".

"This is a blatant crime and Israel is responsible for it", he added.

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While some local media outlets were reporting that Muhammad succumbed to his wounds early Thursday afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health has maintained that he is still in critical condition and being treated in the ICU.

For this reason Hamas started the so-called "Great March of Return" at the end of March the two-month-long violent confrontations along the border with Israel in Gaza which turned into the so-called "Kite Jihad" the daily attacks with incendiary balloons and kites which have caused a ecological disaster in southern Israel.

Rocket warning sirens sounded nearly non-stop in the southern Israeli towns and border communities near Gaza from sunset on Wednesday. A statement issued by his office before reports a truce had been reached said the forum instructed the military to "keep acting with force against the terrorists".

In Sderot, the Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, a gaping hole could be seen in front of a small, three-storey building.

The military said 30 of the some 180 rockets and mortars fired at Israel were intercepted by air defence systems.

Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to mediate a comprehensive cease-fire to prevent an escalation in fighting and to ease the deep economic hardship in Gaza, a narrow strip of land that is home to 2 million Palestinians. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

Protests and clashes along the Gaza border began on March 30.

"If current escalation, however, is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

The Gaza Strip, home to almost two million Palestinians, has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.

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