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Netanyahu, 'Hamas will pay 'heavy price' for boy's death'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday vowed that Palestinian faction Hamas would pay a "heavy price" for the death of a four-year-old Israeli boy killed in the southern Negev region by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post has reported. According to the Israeli newspaper, the pledge came during a phone conversation between Netanyahu and Alon Shuster, head of Israel's Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, shortly after the attack. Netanyahu told Shuster that the Israeli army would step up strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip "until the goals of Operation Protective Edge are achieved."
Earlier in the day, the Israeli police said that a four-year-old child in Israel's southern Negev region had been killed by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip – the first Israeli casualty since violence re-erupted in the region on Tuesday. The fatality raised the Israeli death toll from the recent violence to 68 – 64 soldiers killed in ground operations inside the Gaza Strip and four civilians killed by Palestinian rocket fire. Violence flared up again between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza on Tuesday following the collapse of Egypt-hosted indirect talks aimed at reaching a permanent ceasefire deal, with Israel accusing Palestinian resistance factions of breaking a temporary truce with a rocket barrage. The claim was denied by Hamas, however, which in turn accused Israel of attempting to derail the ceasefire talks in Cairo. Since hostilities began on July 7, at least 2091 Palestinians have been killed – the vast majority of them civilians – and more than 10,000 injured by Israeli attacks across the beleaguered Gaza Strip. Since 2007, the coastal strip has reeled under a crippling Israeli blockade that has taken an enormous toll on the coastal territory's economy and played havoc with residents' livelihoods.
By Abdel-Raouf Arnaout

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