Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Israeli forces have killed three Palestinians in airstrikes on the Gaza Strip including a pregnant woman and her 18-month old child, officials said Thursday.
Military officials said the Israeli Air Force launched the strikes Wednesday after about 150 rockets fired from Gaza injured at least six people.
The violence killed 34-year-old Ali Ghandour, 23-year-old pregnant woman Inas Khamash, and her 18-month-old daughter, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.
The Israeli strikes targeted Hamas military sites and lasted into early Thursday, an Israeli Defense Forces statement said.
Israeli Defense Forces fighter jets struck targets in Gaza, including over 100 of Hamas' strategic military sites, a manufacturing facility for tunnels and concrete and a maritime tunnel shaft.
The IDF warned against the escalating violence Thursday.
"The important part is the decision making on the Gazan side, on Hamas' side, and what they will try to achieve by firing rockets at Israeli civilians," said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International Press and Social Media Branch. "I think that they are not furthering or promoting their own interest or the civilian interest in Gaza by escalating the situation, and by firing at Israeli civilians."
The escalation of violence came amid attempts to secure a long-term cease-fire.
"I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel, and particularly by today's multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel," U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenoalso said. "Our collective efforts have prevented the situation from exploding until now. If the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.
"We will continue working hard to ensure that Gaza steps back from the brink, that all humanitarian issues are addressed and that Egyptian-led efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation succeed."