Israeli aircraft struck the empty office of Gaza's Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh and nearby premises of his Interior Ministry Wednesday night, killing a baby and wounding more than 30 other people, Palestinians said.
Health officials said the 6-month-old baby was hit by shrapnel from the attack. His family lived near the Interior Ministry building in a Gaza neighborhood. The airstrike came hours after rocket attacks from Gaza killed an Israeli student in the southern border town of Sderot.
Hamas security officials said missiles fired from helicopters hit the buildings, sited in downtown residential neighborhoods, wounding around 25 local residents and two Hamas security guards patrolling on the street.
Earlier Wednesday, three Palestinian children were killed in an IAF strike in the northern Gaza Strip immediately following the deadly Qassam attack. The children were aged 10, 12, and 14.
The IDF said it had targeted a rocket launching squad poised to fire additional Qassam rockets in Beit Hanun.
A military source said it was strange that children would be in the vicinity of rocket launchers, and that it has been proven that terrorist groups often employ children to recover rocket launchers after they are fired.
'Senior engineer killed'
On Wednesday afternoon, one Israeli was killed, several were wounded and many were treated for shock as at least 40 Qassam rockets slammed into the western Negev town of Sderot and the surrounding communities.
Roni Yechiah, a 47-year-old father of four who was killed in the strike was apparently in a car, parked next to Sapir College on the outskirts of Sderot, which was hit by a Qassam. He suffered lethal shrapnel wounds to the chest.
The rocket barrage occurred hours after an IAF strike killed five Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip who were apparently planning a large scale terrorist attack against Israel after having been trained in Iran. The Shin Bet security service ventured a guess that the severity of the rocket attack against Israel Wednesday afternoon reflected the central role the dead Hamas men had played in the organization.
Hamas' military wing claimed responsibility for firing the Qassams.
Wednesday morning, at least seven Palestinian militants, most from the extremist Hamas movement, were killed in operations by the IDF in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In southern Gaza, an IAF air strike destroyed a minivan carrying Hamas members, killing five. Hamas said that the dead included a senior engineer involved in the production of the Qassam rockets fired at southern Israel from Gaza on a daily basis, as well the commander of a local rocket-launching squad.
Two other Hamas members were wounded in the air strike, according to Hamas and Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Gaza Health Ministry.
Minutes after the first explosion, an IAF missile struck another car nearby. Witnesses said the militants in the car had abandoned the vehicle for the white minivan shortly before the strike. There were no casualties in the second attack.
The IDF confirmed the strikes, which it said targeted vehicles transporting militants. Israel is targeting Palestinians responsible for the daily Qassam barrages.