Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza traded fire again Thursday, with casualties on both sides.
Three Israelis died when a rocket hit an apartment building in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi.
Other rockets reached deep into Israel, setting off air raid sirens in Tel Aviv for the first time since 1991, and sending residents scurrying for shelter.
Several Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The BBC’s Paul Danahar in Gaza City says the attacks are sporadic but “big and loud” when they come.Danahar says outgoing missiles and rockets are being fired from residential areas, but points out that pretty much everywhere in Gaza is a residential area.
The home of a BBC employee, Jihad Misharawi, was hit Wednesday by “what looks like a shell,” according to Danahar.
“It caused a huge fire,” Danahar says.
Jihad’s 11-month-old son, Omar, was badly burnt. He was taken to hospital, but died after about an hour.
Jihad’s sister-in-law was also killed, and his brother badly wounded.
His wife and older son Ali, 4, had just stepped into the next room when the shell came in.
“It was a matter of about six inches between life and death in his house last night,” Danahar says.
“I spoke to him myself today,” Danahar says, “and he said there was no fighting going on, there was nobody from (Hamas) there. It was just civilians.”
There has been growing tit-for-tat violence between the two sides for weeks.
The Palestinians intensified rocket and missile attacks on Israel over the weekend.
Then on Wednesday, Israel began a major air assault in response, killing the military head of Hamas.
Read the Transcript
The text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to email@example.com. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.
Aaron Schachter: I am Aaron Schachter; this is The World. Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza traded fire again today with casualties on both sides. Three Israelis died when a rocket hit a residential area. Other rockets reached deep into Israel, setting off air raid sirens in Tel Aviv for the first time since 1991 during the first Gulf war. We’ll hear from the Israeli side in just a few minutes, but first to Gaza where several Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks. The BBC’s Paul Danahar is there. We caught up with him earlier as the sun was setting.
Paul Danahar: Well, there is still a regular exchange of fire. We just had a very loud explosion happening near our bureau and, literally, about two minutes later we heard the whooshing sound of something taking off. So, it’s sporadic at the moment but it’s loud and it’s big when it happens. Gaza is basically preparing for another long night after quite a long day.
Schachter: Now, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says Israel is doing everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties, but he says Hamas is firing from residential areas. Is that happening?
Danahar: Well, where my bureau is, there are residential accommodations around and there are rockets going off. I think, the thing about Gaza, to be honest with you, is it’s an incredibly small place and there’s a lot of people in it. So, pretty much everywhere in Gaza is a residential area unless you’re going right up to the kind of no-man’s land area between Israel and where Gaza kind of properly starts. So, there certainly are things being fired off from residential area but it’s almost…probably impossible to go get entirely away from a residential area if you want to fire something off. So, I think the key factor here is to what extent is what’s coming back in to what, I think, can it be targeted. You can target people with drones in daylight, but if you’re firing back in from the sea or you’re firing tank rounds or whatever, they are not accurate. So it really depends on what’s being used to target people.
Schachter: Now, there was a tragic incident that we know of with one of our colleagues in Gaza. Can you tell us what happened there?
Danahar: This is our colleague Jihad. His son was killed last night when what we believe was a shell came in through the roof. You can see where it came in. It hit the wall and it basically exploded. It caused a huge fire which killed his young son. He survived in hospital for about an hour. He was 11 months old. His name was Omar. It also killed his sister-in-law and has left his brother badly injured. His elder son Ali, he’s 4, received some slight wounds to his head, but he’s okay. It’s absolutely tragic for all of us, obviously. We spoke to Jihad…I spoke to Jihad today. I went down to see him and he said, “Look, there was no fighting going on, there was nobody from the ‘resistance’ (which is the word that everybody in Gaza uses for Hamas), it was just civilians.” Basically, his wife and his elder son just stepped outside the room when the shell came in and, because they were the other side of the wall, they survived. It was a matter of about 6 inches between life and death in his house last night.
Schachter: The BBC’s Paul Danahar in Gaza.
Copyright ©2012 PRI’s THE WORLD. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to PRI’s THE WORLD. This transcript may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written permission. For further information, please email The World’s Permissions Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.