JERUSALEM – Gaza militants, reeling from an Israeli military operation, killed three Israelis on Thursday in a rocket attack that is likely to exact a harsh retaliation by Israel.
The casualties were the first since Israel launched its operation on Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas’ top military commander. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the three Israelis died after a rocket struck their apartment building in the country’s south.
Since the Israeli operation started, 11 Palestinians, including two young children and seven militants, have been killed in Gaza and more than 93 were wounded.
Israelis and Gazans both holed up in their homes Thursday in anticipation of heavy fighting on the second day of the military’s campaign.
Israeli aircraft, tanks and naval gunboats pounded the Hamas-ruled coastal strip and rocket salvoes thudded into southern Israel.
The operation, launched after days of rocket fire from the coastal territory, was Israel’s most intense attack on Gaza since its full-scale war there four years ago.
It has also deepened the instability gripping the Middle East. Cairo recalled its ambassador in response to the military operation, which began just days after Israel was drawn into Syria’s civil war for the first time.
In the Gaza Strip, hundreds of mourners braved the Israeli attacks to bury Hamas mastermind Ahmed Jabari, waving the green Hamas flag.