The heaviest Israel-Hamas fighting in four years entered its second day on Thursday when a rocket fired by militants in Gaza killed three people and injured several more in Kiryat Malachi, Israel. Fifteen Palestinians, including civilians, have also reportedly died as a result of Israel's ongoing air and naval assault on militant targets in the Gaza strip.
As the New York Times explains, the Israeli deaths—the first since the military offensive began—will likely lead to further escalation. Israel's attacks on targets in the strip began with the killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari after days of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. The IDF, who basically live-blogged their own military campaign, followed up Jabari's death with hits on dozens of other targets in the strip.
Hamas, an anti-Israel nationalist movement with its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, has been the governing body in the Gaza Strip since 2007. Israel has alternatively negotiated with and blamed the group for rocket fire from Gaza into Israel since Israel's Operation Cast Lead about four years ago. Israel claims that more than 750 such rockets have been fired this year alone, the Times notes, and Jabari's assassination is being framed by the IDF as the inevitable result of those attacks.
As Dan Murphy at the Christian Science Monitor explains, however, the Hamas military chief killed was also one of the (if not the) main Hamas officials tasked by Israel with maintaining security in the strip. And as Haaretz reports, at least one peace activist in the region is calling Jabari's death a "strategic mistake."