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. They survived. "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." The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, commented Thursday, "The terrorists are committing a double war crime. They fire at Israeli civilians and they hide behind Palestinian civilians. And, by contrast, Israel takes every measure to avoid civilian casualties. I saw today a picture of a bleeding Israeli baby. This picture says it all. Hamas deliberately targets our children and they deliberately place their rockets next to their children. Now despite this reality -and it's a difficult reality — Israel will continue to do everything its power to avoid civilian casualties." 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.
  • The aftermath of the shell landing on the home of the BBC's Jihad Misharawi. (Photo: BBC/Paul Danahar)

  • Omar (Photo: BBC)

  • The hole left by the shell that entered the home of the BBC's Jihad Misharawi in Gaza. (Photo: BBC/Paul Danahar)

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