Death tolls rise in surging Israel-Gaza fighting

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Death tolls rise in surging Israel-Gaza fighting

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Israel killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in what the military described as a targeted strike, which Palestinians said was the first such action since the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave.

An Israeli military statement said that Hamed al-Khoudary had been responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza. Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in an airstrike on his car.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he ordered the military to continue “massive strikes” against militants in Gaza as a surge in cross-border hostilities ran into a third day.

A rocket fired from Gaza killed an Israeli civilian on Sunday and two Palestinian gunmen were killed in an Israeli strike, with no sign of any impending ceasefire in the most serious border flare-up since November.

The latest deaths bring to nine the number of Palestinians killed since Saturday in the cross-border hostilities.

A damaged building stands on a debris-strewn street in Gaza City on Sunday following Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave. Gaza militants fired fresh rocket barrages at Israel early Sunday as the conflict continued. (Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)

An Israeli hospital official, Dr. Ron Lobel, deputy director of the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, on Sunday said a total of three people have been killed from Palestinian rocket fire in the past 24 hours.

Israel’s military said more than 450 rockets, many of them intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system, have been fired at southern Israeli cities and villages since Friday, and it attacked some 220 targets belonging to Gaza militant groups.

Police said one of the rockets hit a house in the city of Ashkelon, killing a 58-year-old man early Sunday. Israeli media reported two others were killed later Sunday in a rocket strike on a factory in the city. 

“This morning I instructed the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) to continue with massive strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip and I also instructed that forces around the Gaza Strip be stepped up with tank, artillery and infantry forces,” Netanyahu, who doubles as Israeli defence minister, said in a statement.

This photo taken Sunday shows a kitchen that was damaged by a rocket strike on the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon near the Gaza border. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

This story originally appeared on CBC

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