Pregnant woman and daughter, two, killed in Israeli air strike

Pregnant woman and daughter, two, killed in Israeli air strike
A Palestinian is evacuated after he was shot by Israeli security forces with a rubber bullet during an attack by another Palestinian, who according to the police, stabbed two police officers, at the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City, yesterday. Pic: AP

An Israeli air strike has killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her two-year-old daughter in Gaza, health officials said.

It came after a Palestinian woman detonated an explosive in her car at a checkpoint in the West Bank, injuring an Israeli soldier and herself.

The attack marked the first use of explosives in the current round of violence following a series of stabbing and shooting attacks. The violence has unnerved a jittery Israel, and prompted the US to issue a fresh call for restraint by all sides.

The wave of attacks began weeks ago in Jerusalem and has since spread to the rest of Israel, while violent protests have erupted in the West Bank and along the Gaza border – where nine Palestinians were killed in clashes over the weekend.

The Gaza border has been largely calm since the month-long summer 2014 war between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the coastal territory.

In response to renewed rocket fire towards Israel, the military said it carried out air strikes in Gaza targeting Hamas weapons manufacturing facilities.

Ashraf Al-Kidra, a health ministry spokesman in Gaza, said a nearby home was struck, killing 30-year-old Noor Hassan and her infant daughter. He said four others were wounded, included Ms Hassan’s husband and son, in the strike in the southern Gaza strip.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Israeli police say a 31-year-old Palestinian woman set off an explosive in her vehicle that lightly wounded a police officer and critically injured herself. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the police officer noticed the woman driving suspiciously and motioned her to stop. She then chanted “God is great” and detonated a bomb.

On Saturday, Palestinians carried out two stabbing attacks in Jerusalem before being shot dead by police, while another two Palestinian youths were killed near the Gaza border fence, as a week-long bout of violence showed no signs of slowing.

Recent days have seen a series of attacks by young Palestinians wielding household items like kitchen knives, screwdrivers and even a vegetable peeler. The youths had no known links to armed groups and have seemingly targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating efforts to predict or prevent the attacks.

The violence, including an apparent revenge attack in which an Israeli stabbed and wounded four Arabs on Friday, as well as increasing protests by Israel’s own Arab minority, has raised fears of a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Several protests broke out over the weekend in Arab-majority towns and cities, in which masked demonstrators clashed with police forces.

Since the latest wave of unrest began this month, eight Palestinians have been killed while carrying out attacks and 13 have been killed in protests and clashes in the West Bank and Gaza. The Red Crescent medical service says over 500 Palestinians have been wounded in violent protests in the West Bank, including about 100 from live fire.

At the start of the month, Palestinians shot two Israeli settlers to death in front of their children in the West Bank. In a separate incident, a Palestinian wielding a knife killed two Israeli men and wounded a mother and toddler in Jerusalem before being shot dead.

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