A Hamas mortar shell struck a quiet civilian community in the south of Israel Friday, not far from the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, claiming the life of a four-year-old Israeli boy as he played in what he thought was the safety of his family’s living room. Israeli authorities gave the the child’s name as Daniel Tregerman.
The deadly mortar shell was launched by a Hamas artillery team who set up their cannons either on or near a Gaza City school operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), a U.N. group that provides services for Palestinian refugees in Gaza and throughout the region.
After peace talks between Israel and Hamas broke down, Hamas stepped up its barrage of explosive missiles aimed at Israel. Friday was the heaviest day of the week for the attacks, with more than 80 rockets and mortar shells fired from Hamas positions in Gaza over the Israeli border.
While Hamas had not yet issued any statement regarding the death of four-year-old Daniel Tregerman, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was quick to react, offering condolences to the boy’s family, but also vowing that Hamas “will pay a heavy price” as retribution for the boy’s death.
According to Israeli medic Itzik Bar-or, Daniel Tregerman’s parents and siblings were all at home when the mortar shell struck. The explosion destroyed a car outside the home, but flying shrapnel penetrated the house and hit the boy in the head, inflicting that fatal injuries. Medics attempted CPR on the boy, but their efforts were futile.
Five other Israeli civilians were wounded in the Hamas mortar attack, but none seriously.
The death of Daniel Tregerman was the 68th death of an Israeli in the current military conflict with Hamas, the terrorist group that also serves as the effective government of Gaza, though most social and public services, as well as many infrastructure improvements, are provided by UNWRA which is funded primarily by the United States and Europe.
Of that Israeli death toll, the death of Daniel Tregerman is the fourth resulting from a Hamas missile fired from Gaza into Israel.
On the Gaza side, there have been 2,090 fatalities, with about 1,600 of those believed to be civilians, according to the Gaza human rights group Mizan. But Israel disputes the percentages. Israel’s Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which investigates the background of each Palestinian killed in Gaza, says that 46 percent of those killed have been “terrorist operatives.”
The numbers are difficult for Israeli investigators to come by, however, as Hamas has closely guarded the names of Palestinians killed in Gaza, as well as the locations where they died.
Israeli authorities charge that the Hamas reluctance to announce the names of Gaza’s dead is the militant group’s way of inflating the number of civilians killed in the fighting, as well as covering up the fact that the fighters base their operations from inside civilian areas, thus placing Palestinian civilians at risk of becoming “collateral damage” in Israeli counterstrikes.