Israeli civilians and soldiers came under sustained attack on Thursday from militants in the south of the country in a co-ordinated and audacious three-pronged, three-hour assault that left at least seven Israelis dead and about 40 injured.
The Israeli government and military said the assailants came from Gaza, and promised to use “full force” in retaliation. Hamas denied it was responsible and said it would defend Gaza with “all its strength”.
Within hours the Israelis had made good their promise, killing up to six Palestinians in an airstrike on Rafah, the Gaza town next to the border with Egypt. The dead were said to include the commander of the Popular Resistance Committees, Kamal Abu Abed al-Nairab, and a three-year-old child.