Hamas ‘will pay heavy price’ for killing of 4-year-old boy in border kibbutz, 70 rockets fired since Friday morning

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas would pay a “heavy price” for the killing of a four-year-old Israeli boy by a mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon in a kibbutz of the Shaar Hanagev region, close to the border with Gaza.

The boy was at home with his parents and did not manage to make it into the home’s protected room in time, the regional council head Alon Shuster said.

The boy, who was not immediately named. His death brought the Israeli death toll since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8 to 68.

The boy was critically wounded, and later died of his wounds. Earlier reports had said he was hit when the shell hit a car he was in at the kibbutz.

Several cars and buildings sustained damage from the fire following the explosion of the mortar shell.

Netanyahu said the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet would intensify their operations against Hamas and other Gaza terror groups until sustained calm was guaranteed for Israel.

By Friday evening, Gaza-based terror groups had fired over 90 rockets and mortar shells into Israel since the morning. Sirens sounded across southern and central Israel as a barrage of rockets was launched in the late afternoon hours.

Shuster said the family had only recently returned to their home, having stayed elsewhere during part of the war.

US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro condemned the attack. “I condemn in the strongest terms this outrageous terrorist attack and offer condolences to the boy’s family. Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself, which the United States supports,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

The boy was the first Israeli fatality since Hamas breached a truce on Tuesday and resumed rocket fire at Israel, prompting a re-escalation of fighting and the collapse of ceasefire talks in Cairo.

By Friday evening, Gaza-based terror groups had fired over 90 rockets and mortar shells into Israel since the morning. Sirens sounded across southern and central Israel as a barrage of rockets was launched in the late afternoon hours.

A rocket fired from Gaza made a direct hit on a synagogue in Ashdod, causing significant damage to the building.

Three people sustained shrapnel injuries. One woman in her 40s was moderately injured and was transferred to Barzilai Medical Centre in Ashkelon for treatment. Two men in their 20s were transferred to Kaplan Medical central in Rehovot for light injuries.