6-year-old killed in rocket strike on apartment building in city of Sderot

6-year-old killed in rocket strike on apartment building in city of Sderot
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Israeli paramedics on Wednesday said a 6-year-old was killed and multiple people were wounded in a rocket attack on an apartment building in the southern Israeli city of Sderot as violence escalated between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas for a third-straight day. 

The Associated Press reported that the child was killed when a rocket hit the apartment building. Five others were wounded in the rocket strike, Israeli paramedics said. 

In total, an estimated 53 Palestinians, including 14 children and three women, have been killed amid back-and-forth airstrikes and rocket attacks that have amounted to the most intense violence seen since 2014 between Israel and Hamas, a group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

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On the Israeli side, there have been at least six deaths, including an Israeli soldier, three women and two children. 

The AP reported that dozens of people in Israel have been wounded. 

The IDF on Wednesday killed multiple senior Hamas military figures, according to the AP, and continued air strikes on multistory buildings and Hamas security bases. 

Hamas fired back with barrages of rockets that have at times overwhelmed Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. 

Hamas earlier Wednesday said that its Gaza City commander, Bassem Issa, was killed by an Israel airstrike. Issa is the highest ranking Hamas military figure to be killed since the group’s 2014 war with Israel. 

The latest string of violence first erupted in Jerusalem last month amid protests during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in part against a court's ruling to evict several of Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah. 

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International and diplomatic leaders have expressed concern this week over the violence, with some urging for calm from both sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE has said the Israeli military will expand its offensive, adding that this “will take time.” Hamas leaders have called for an intifada, or uprising, the last of which began in 2000 and lasted for more than five years, the AP noted. 

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBlinken calls US-India relationship 'vital' during official visit US sanctioning Syrian officials, groups over human rights abuses Chinese officials meeting with Taliban ahead of US withdrawal MORE announced Wednesday that the Biden administration was dispatching Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian affairs, to engage with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to deescalate the conflict. 

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines all canceled flights from the United States to Tel Aviv scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.