‘What did my son do to die like this?’Anguish of BBC journalist as he cradles the body of his baBBCby son who died in Israeli rocket attack on Gaza
‘What did my son do to die like this?,’ he pleaded, ‘What was his mistake? He is 11 months-old, what did he do?’
Tiny Omar is the youngest casualty of the conflict in Gaza and Israel, which last night, threatened to escalate. He died after an Israeli airstrike on Hamas militants in GAza.
Today Hamas hit back, firing missiles into southern Israel. Last night air sirens were heard in Tel Aviv. Fifteen Palestinians and three Israelis have so far been killed.
Mourning: Jihad al-Masharawi, a Palestinian employee of BBC Arabic in Gaza, kissed the body of his young son
A photographer and picture editor for the BBC, Masharawi had arrived at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital after Omar suffered severe burns in an airstrike that sent shrapnel tearing into his home killing a woman and leaving his brother and uncle critically injured.
Dozens of casualties from the Israeli barrage were being treated at the hospital as a distraught Masharawi said : ‘The Israelis say they are targeting militants but my son was an innocent.’
But as Hamas retaliated with a blitz or some 200 rockets into Israel following the assassination of its military leader Ahmed Jabari there were civilian victims there too after three people died when a four-storey building in the town of Kiryat Malachi, 15 miles north of Gaza, was hit as the residents sat down to breakfast.
Toast and jam still lay on the kitchen table yesterday covered by dust and broken glass as angry residents turned on politicans claimed not enough had been done to protect them.
Last night a Hamas rocket reached the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial and cultural capital, by far the farthest strike into Israel in two days of increasingly bitter fighting.
It landed in Rishon Lezion, a city just south of Tel Aviv located in heavily populated central Israel, and while it caused no damage or injuries, it underlined the growing capabilities of Gaza militants.
Earlier Hamas claimed it had fired a one-tonne, Iranian-made Fajr 5 rocket at Tel Aviv, 40 miles north of Gaza, but it is believed this one was shot down.
Warning sirens sounded across the city last night as militants boasted of being able to strike deeper into Israel than ever before.
Massive explosions rocked Gaza as airstrikes, tanks and naval ships struck at launch sites, sending plumes of debris and thick black smoke hundreds of feet into the air while over Israel the clear blue skies were dotted by vapour trails from missiles and warplanes.
Anxious residents of southern towns waited for the wail of sirens to send them to shelters and watched as a series of spectacular mid-air explosions marked the impact of missiles from Israel’s defensive Iron Dome interceptor system with those in-coming from Gaza.
Israel said dozens were destroyed but some made it through with two babies and a four-year-old wounded in Kiryat Malachi alongside the two women and a man killed. Officials said the dead had ignored warnings to take shelter.
The deaths and the intensity of rocket fire has led to fears that Israel is preparing to launch a full-scale military invasion of the Gaza Strip with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning the army is prepared for a ‘significant widening’ of its operations.
He described Gaza as a ‘terrorist stronghold’ from where more than 1,000 rockets had been fired into Israel this year and claimed rocket launchers had been deliberately placed near schools and hospitals.
‘No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire, and Israel will not tolerate this situation,’ he said.
‘This is why my government has instructed the Israeli Defence Forces to conduct surgical strikes against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. And this is why Israel will continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people.’ The fighting, the heaviest in four years, has brought life to a standstill on both sides of the border, with schools cancelled and people huddled indoors.
Israeli Transport Minister Israel Katz said that ‘if the shooting doesn’t stop, Israel will also target Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh’ – a move that might draw Egypt further into the crisis.
Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi today ordered his prime minister to lead a senior delegation to Gaza in a show of support for the coastal strip’s Hamas rulers.
Explosions: A picture taken from the southern Israeli town of Sderot shows smoke billowing from a spot targeted by an Israeli air strike inside the Gaza strip
Dawn strike: Explosion and smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip. The attack resulted in the death of eleven Palestinians including children
He has vowed to work to stop Israel’s campaign, calling the Jewish state’s actions there ‘unacceptable’ in his first public comments on the crisis on his country’s doorstep.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was ‘gravely concerned’ by the situation in Gaza, adding ‘Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis’, also urging all the sides involved to “avoid any action which risks civilian casualties or escalates the crisis.’ Mr Hague said the latest crisis underlined the urgent need for ‘progress toward a two-state solution which allows Israelis and Palestinians to live alongside each other in peace and security’.
Hamas announced a state of emergency in Gaza, evacuating all its security buildings and deploying its troops away from their locations while schools have been ordered closed until the operation ends with most of the territory’s 1.6 million people only venturing out from shelters to buy food, fuel and other basic supplies.
Few in the territory’s largest urban area, Gaza City, came out following the call for dawn prayers, and the only vehicles plying the streets were ambulances and media cars.
Most Gazans remained in their homes, following developments on Hamas-run TV and local radio stations.
‘I am trying to calm my children when they hear the sound of explosions,’ said Zainab Nimr, a 33-year-old mother of three. ‘We have enough food and water for four days, so I asked my husband to go out and get extra supplies. No one knows when this will end.’ Thousands of people, including top Hamas officials, braved the threats to attend the funeral for Jabari
‘We want to kill in the name of God,’ chanted mourners as angry gunmen fired automatic weapons into the air. Hundreds of people raised their index fingers in the air, chanting, ‘God is great.’
As the car carrying Mr Jabari reaches a crossroads the missile is fired and then The pinpoint attack hits, and Mr Jabari’s car explodes in a ball of flame