Palestinian baby, pregnant mother killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
Israeli airstrikes killed four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, including a baby and her pregnant mother, as militants fired over 200 rockets at Israel in a major escalation of violence.
The health ministry in Gaza said in a statement that Falestine Abu Arar, 37, had died from the "Israeli targeting east of Gaza".
A ministry spokesman told AFP she was the mother of the baby who died in the same incident earlier as Israel carried out strikes in response to some 200 rockets fired from Gaza.
Khaled Abu Qleiq, 25, was hit and killed by an Israeli strike in northern Gaza, while another Palestinian was killed earlier by Israeli raids.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident involving the baby. The army said earlier it was targeting only military sites.
Israel said around 200 rockets were fired from Gaza and its air defences intercepted dozens of them.
One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 20 kilometres from the Gaza border, police said.
Police said a man was also hospitalised in the city of Ashkelon and spoke of other injuries without providing details.
As the exchange of fire continued, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held consultations with security chiefs.
A statement from Hamas ally Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for at least some of the rocket fire and said it was prepared for more if necessary.
Its armed wing distributed a video showing militants handling rockets and threatening key Israeli sites, including Ben-Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv.
A source in the group said Egypt was engaged in discussions to calm the situation, as it has done repeatedly in the past.
The European Union called for an immediate halt to rocket fire from Gaza.
Israel said it was closing its people and goods crossings with Gaza as well as the zone it allows for fishermen off the enclave until further notice due to the rocket fire.
The escalation in violence follows deadly clashes along the Gaza border on Friday.
Four Palestinians, including two Hamas militants, were killed after two Israeli soldiers were wounded in a shooting during weekly protests near the border fence.
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas brokered by Egypt and the United Nations had led to relative calm around Israel's April 9 general election.
Palestinians have participated in regular demonstrations along the Gaza border for more than a year calling on Israel to ease its crippling blockade of the enclave.
At least 271 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began in March 2018, the majority along the border.
The results of a UN investigation released at the end of February found that Israel may have committed crimes against humanity in responding to the border protests, as snipers "intentionally" shot civilians including children, journalists and the disabled.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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