GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An open military confrontation between Hamas and Israel finally erupted in Gaza July 8, following a gradual escalation that began after the kidnapping and killing of three students near Hebron in June and a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem in July. Israel’s killing of six members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, in Rafah on July 6 pushed the door open to full-blown warfare, as the Qassam Brigades responded by firing dozens of mortar rounds and Qassam and Grad rockets at southern Israel the evening of July 7 in a manner not seen since the November 2012 war. The Israeli army launched Operation Protective Edge at dawn on July 8.
Al-Monitor conducted a field survey of the sites targeted by the Israeli air force in Gaza and learned from Ashraf al-Qadwa, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, that the strikes to date had led to the deaths of 68 Palestinians, among them 19 children and 10 women, and the wounding of 450 others. These casualties resulted from the targeting of homes in the cities of Rafah, Khan Yunis and Beit Lahiya.