Indian woman killed as violence escalates between Hamas and Israeli forces

At least five people, including an Indian nurse, were killed and dozens were injured after the Hamas Islamist movement in Gaza fired massive barrages of rockets at southern Israel, which prompted retaliatory airstrikes from Israeli forces.

Among the deceased was a 32-year-old Indian caregiver, Soumya Santosh. Soumya was killed while her elderly charge, 80, was hospitalised in serious condition after one of the rockets struck her home, The Times of Israel reported citing local media. Santosh is survived by her husband and nine-year-old daughter.

Soumya Santosh Indian Nurse killed in Israel; Picture Source: Twitter @drRonMalka

The deaths marked the first fatalities in Israel in the round of fighting with Gaza terrorist groups that began Monday evening, which has seen hundreds of rockets fired at Israeli territory and retaliatory airstrikes from Jerusalem.

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Indian Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said he spoke to Santosh’s family to convey his condolences while condemning the attack and urging restraint from both sides.

“Spoke with the family of Ms Soumya Santhosh to convey my deep condolences at her tragic demise during the rocket attacks from Gaza today. Assured all possible assistance. We have condemned these attacks and the violence in Jerusalem, and urged restraint by both sides,” he tweeted.

Israeli ambassador Ron Malka on Wednesday said he has spoken to the family of Soumya Santosh, a Kerala woman who was killed in a rocket attack on Israel and extended his condolences on behalf of the state of Israel.

Malka said in a post on social media his heart goes out to Santosh’s nine-year-old son, who lost his mother at such a young age.
“I just spoke to the family of Ms Soumya Santosh, the victim of the Hamas terrorist strike. I expressed my sorrow for their unfortunate loss & extended my condolences on behalf of the state of Israel. The whole country is mourning her loss & we are here for them,” Malka tweeted.

“My heart goes out to her 9-year-old son, Adon, who has lost his mother at such a young age and will have to grow up without her. This evil attack reminds me of little Moses, who also lost his parents during the 2008 #Mumbaiattacks. May God give them strength and courage,” he added.

According to her family, she was living in Israel for the last seven years. Her husband and nine-year-old son are living in Kerala. She is the daughter of Kanjikuzhy panchayat member Satish and Savithri.

The Israeli Army on Wednesday said over 1,050 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel since the violence broke out on Monday evening.

Israel defence forces (IDF) Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the Iron Dome air defence system had an interception rate between 85 and 90 per cent of rockets heading toward populated areas, The Times of Israel reported.

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In response, the IDF launched strikes on upwards of 500 targets in the Gaza Strip, aimed at Hamas personnel, weaponry and infrastructure, Zilberman says.

The Israeli Air Force carried out a series of early morning airstrikes early on Wednesday on the Gaza Strip, destroying dozens of police and security installations, witnesses say.
A wall of dark grey smoke rose over Gaza City and observers in Gaza said that it is one of the heaviest Israeli strikes ever.

The ongoing violence marks a dramatic escalation of tensions linked to the potential eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem by Israeli settlers and access to one of the most sacred sites in the city, which is a key hub for Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

The confrontation intensified in recent days as Ramzan brought large crowds to al-Aqsa and clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli police. More than 300 Palestinians were injured on Monday.

The protests spread to other Arab areas inside Israel. In the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, Arab protesters threw stones and fireworks at passersby and police early Tuesday. And a man whose identity has not been disclosed opened fire on a group of Arab protesters carrying Palestinian flags, The Washington Post reported.

More than 1,100 Palestinians were injured in clashes with the Israeli military on May 7-10, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Health authorities in Gaza said at least 36 Palestinians – including 10 children – were killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Strip since late on Monday after Hamas launched rockets from the coastal territory towards Israel.
The security forces in Israel are bracing up for further violence. Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai ordered a “significant” bolstering of police presence in the city of Lod and a number of other locations after Public Security Minister Amir Ohana declared a state of emergency.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint and calibrate the use of force in Gaza.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is deeply saddened to learn of increasingly large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza,” according to a statement.
Earlier on Monday, at least 20 people were killed in Palestine after Israeli forces launched retaliatory airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The country has been embroiled in conflict over the impending eviction of dozens of Palestinians from East Jerusalem’s neighbourhood.

Over 70 Palestinians in total are set to be evicted from Sheikh Jarrah in the coming weeks to be replaced by right-wing Jewish Israelis. The Palestinians live in houses built on land that courts have ruled were owned by Jewish religious associations before the establishment of Israel in 1948, reported The Times of Israel.