Israel strikes Gaza targets as Netanyahu warns militants will pay ‘very heavy’ price

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday vowed more attacks on Palestinian militant groups in Gaza to bring “total, long-term quiet” before considering a cease-fire — as the death toll from the spiraling hostilities climbed to six Israelis and 53 Palestinians.

“The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce,” Gantz said in Ashkelon, the southern Israel city that has been pounded by Palestinian rocket fire.

His remarks came as the Israel Defense Forces continued to pound targets in Gaza in response to rocket barrages by Hamas and other militants on Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the dead Palestinians include 14 children and three women, adding that 320 residents in the territory have been wounded in the strikes, including 86 children and 39 women.

Meanwhile, the head of Israel’s emergency services reported that one person has been killed and another seriously wounded by an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip.

Eli Bein of the Magen David Adom said the Wednesday morning attack hit a jeep after a night of deadly exchanges between Israel and Palestinians in an escalation of weeks of tension with roots in disputed Jerusalem.

The Hamas terror group has taken responsibility for the Kornet anti-tank guided missile attack, the Times of Israel reported.

“The Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’s military wing) targeted a Zionist enclave with a guided missile in the northern Gaza Strip,” the group said in a statement.

Immediately following the attack, militants in the Strip fired mortar shells throughout the area.

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process has urged an immediate cessation of hostilities.

“Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war,” Tor Wennesland said in a tweet Tuesday.

“Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of deescalation. The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,” he added.

Six Israelis, including three women and a child, have been killed by rocket fire Tuesday and early Wednesday, and dozens of people were wounded.

The worst fighting since the…

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