A four-year-old Israeli boy was killed by a mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon. The boy, named late Friday as Daniel Tragerman, was at home with his parents and siblings at Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Sha’ar Hanegev Region, close to the border with Gaza, when the attack took place.
An Israeli army spokesperson said the fatal shell was fired from near a school used as a shelter for Palestinian refugees. Earlier Israeli officials had said it was fired from an UNRWA school — an assertion the IDF later corrected.
Sirens wailed only very shortly before the mortar shell struck outside the Tragerman family home at the kibbutz, and his parents — Doron and Gila — were unable to get their son Daniel into their protected room in time. He was killed by shrapnel from the explosion that smashed into the house.
Daniel is the first Israeli child to die in the current Israel-Hamas conflict. His death brought the Israeli death toll since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8 to 68.
He was critically wounded, and later died of his wounds.
Several cars and buildings sustained damage from the fire following the explosion of the mortar shell.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas would pay a “heavy price” for the killing. In a phone call to local Sha’ar Hanegev council head Alon Shuster, Netanyahu said the IDF and Shin Bet would intensify their operations against Hamas and other Gaza terror groups until sustained calm was guaranteed for Israel.
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.
Tragerman 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.
One person was in critical condition, and two others were lightly injured, in a separate rocket attack in the Ashdod area later Friday.
By Friday evening, Gaza-based terror groups had fired over 110 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.
Earlier Friday, a rocket slammed into an empty house in Sderot, causing significant damage.
Also on Friday afternoon, a synagogue in Ashdod suffered a direct hit by a Gaza rocket. The building was badly damaged and three people were injured in that attack, one moderately.
Hamas has fired over 3,500 rockets at Israel in the past 46 days, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says. Some 2,000 people have been killed in Gaza as Israel seeks to thwart the rocket attacks and smash a network of attack tunnels dug by Hamas under the border. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel openings and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.”