After a massive Israeli bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip early Thursday morning killed a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter, Israel's vicious assault on the occupied Palestinian territory continued throughout the day on Thursday as the nation's air force leveled a major civilian cultural center in Gaza City and slammed more than a 150 other targets.
Palestinians inspect a house that was damaged in an Israeli airstrike on Dair al Balah in the center of Gaza Strip on August 9, 2018.
The Israeli military said seven people were wounded in southern Israel.
The Los Angeles Times, for its part, clearly stated in the very first sentence of its story the cause and effect of Palestinian rocket fire and subsequent Israeli airstrikes: "Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, fired at least 70 rockets Wednesday across the border into Israel, which retaliated with airstrikes on the Palestinian territory".
While Israeli officials insisted that their large-scale attack on Gaza was in response to Hamas rocket fire, Haaretz reports that it was in fact the Israeli army that sparked the escalation by killing two Palestinians with tank fire, after they allegedly mistook a training exercise for an actual attack.
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 military said Israel was targeted with around 180 rockets and mortars from late Wednesday into Thursday. In this week's fighting, the Palestinian health ministry said three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her one-year-old daughter, and a Hamas militant, were killed in separate airstrikes. According to the Jerusalem Post, more than 200 rockets and mortars were launched since August 8, leaving 28 Israelis injured.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet said in a statement late Thursday that it had directed the Israeli military "to continue taking strong action" against militants in Gaza.
Hamas is demanding the lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade that has devastated Gaza's economy, while Israel wants an end to rocket fire, as well as recent border protests and launches of incendiary balloons, and the return of the remains of two dead soldiers and two Israelis believed to be alive and held by Hamas.
The third and fourth paragraphs detail the Palestinian rocket attacks and the Israeli air strikes, respectively, but still do not indicate that the latter were in response to the former. Hamas militants responded with a cross-border fusillade that sent Israelis scrambling for air raid shelters.
Most of the rockets fired by Palestinian militants landed in open areas, but at least two hit the Israeli town of Sderot and sirens sounded throughout the night.
Israel's military reported seven civilians wounded.
They were killed in an air strike in Jafarawi in central Gaza, the ministry said, while her husband was injured.
Twenty-four of the slain protesters were minors, the ministry has said.
"Bayan was sleeping with her mother and father".
Israel responded by hitting the multi-storey building, first with small bombs apparently so that people would evacuate, then flattening it with a huge blast that shook the city and raised clouds of dust and smoke. A vehicle parked nearby was smashed.
Israel says it has no choice but to enforce its blockade to defend itself against Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction and has used Gaza as a base for missile attacks.
An Iron Dome Missile Defense battery set up in the Southern Israeli city of Sderot fires an intercepting missile on August 9, 2018.
Thursday's events are the latest in a series of severe flare ups over the past few months in Gaza, leading many local and global officials to speculate that another large-scale Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory could be imminent.
He added that "if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the global community to "immediately and urgently intervene".
Protests and clashes along the Gaza border began on March 30.