Cross-border combat has surged in the Gaza Strip over the past couple of days, after Israel's targeted killing of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader on Tuesday morning. Since then, Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 34 Palestinians, almost half of whom are civilians, according to The Guardian.
Citing Gaza's health ministry, the Electronic Intifada reported that Israel's lethal attacks have injured over 85 Palestinians, including 30 children. Meanwhile, across the border, no serious injuries have been reported in Israel due to rockets fired by Palestinian groups.
An Egyptian-mediated ceasefire came into effect on Thursday morning, yet there are reports of ongoing fire exchange.
Israel triggered the military confrontation when it "extrajudicially executed" a senior commander in Islamic Jihad - an Iran-backed militant group - Baha Abu Al-Ata along with his wife on Tuesday. Al-Ata was the group's commander in Gaza's northern region. In response, Islamic Jihad launched rocket fire towards Israel, reaching as far as Tel Aviv, and there has been intense fire exchange since then.
Also on Tuesday, Israeli forces reportedly shelled the headquarters of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Palestine, but no serious injuries were reported.
"We are going to war," said Ziad Al-Nakhala, Islamic Jihad's secretary-general. "[Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] crossed all red lines."
Among those killed by Israel's missile strikes are eight members of the Abu Malhous family, including five children and two women. The Israeli army claimed one of those killed, Ramsi Abu Malhous, was a Palestinian rocket commander. Meanwhile, Gaza's health ministry said all those who died were civilians.
Rafat Muhammad Ayyad and his sons, Islam and Amir, also fell victims to Israeli missiles. Additionally, Israeli strikes hit a carpentry workshop and killed five people in the store, including two children from the Al-Aal family.
Egyptian and Palestinian sources said a truce was implemented early on Thursday. United Nations' peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov said both the UN and Egypt had "worked hard to prevent the most dangerous escalation in and around Gaza from leading to war," urging parties to "show maximum restraint."
However, according to news reports, there have been renewed launches of rockets despite the ceasefire, but the details are yet to be confirmed. Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from near the Gaza fence, described the ceasefire as "fragile."
"We heard from our colleagues in Gaza, that more rockets have been fired out of Gaza, and around the same time, we heard here what sounded like outgoing Israeli artillery," Fawcett noted. "The ceasefire that had been holding for about four or five hours appears to be less firm."
Social media outrage
Despite the consensus that Israel dealt the first blow, the occupying power continues to paint its attacks as self-defense and underplay the scope of its crimes. In response to media reports and social media posts victimizing Israel, many supporters of the Palestinian cause took to Twitter to express their outrage and set the facts straight: