Gaza/Jerusalem: Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Friday killed a top militant commander, two of his sons and a pregnant woman among others, taking the Palestinian toll to 832, as the 18-day conflict spread to the West Bank where largest anti-Israel protests in years turned violent.
A spokesman for the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qidra, confirmed the figures adding that over 5,240 people had also been injured in Israeli attacks since July 8.
Islamic Jihad senior leader Salah Hasanein and his sons, 12 and 15, were killed in the strike in the southern city of Rafah, Gaza emergency services officials said. Hasnin was the head of Islamic Jihad's spokesman division in Rafah.
Another raid killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah after her house was hit. However, surgeons saved the life of the woman's unborn child. Hamas' military wing claimed it fired three rockets targeting Israel's Ben Gurion International airport.
Meanwhile, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced that a solider serving in the Bahad 1 brigade was killed in battle early Friday morning in the north of Gaza Strip. The army also confirmed today that one of its missing soldiers was killed in Gaza, taking the death toll of Israeli soldiers to 34.
Two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have also been killed in the conflict so far. Meanwhile, the violence also spread to the West Bank with at least seven Palestinian protesters being killed in clashes with Israeli police in the last 24 hours.
Protests were also held in Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem and Jerusalem neighbourhoods. Three protesters were killed on Friday by Israeli soldiers near the southern city of Hebron, while Israeli settlers fired on a group of Palestinians, killing one person in Nablus. One more protester was killed in subsequent clashes there.
Two protesters were killed by Israeli police on Thursday. Israeli offesive overnight killed 42 Palestinians, as international efforts for a ceasefire intensified after 17 Palestinians died and 200 others injured in an Israeli strike on a UN-run school in Hamas-ruled northern Gaza on Thursday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, which came hours after the agency had warned that Israel's actions in the Gaza could constitute war crimes.
Ban on Friday called for an immediate "humanitarian pause" lasting through the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr. "On this, the last Friday of Ramadan, I call for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian pause in the fighting in Gaza and Israel. This pause would last through the Eid al-Fitr holiday period," Ban said in a statement.
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