Palestinian health officials reported Wednesday that Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip have killed at least 26 Palestinians, including children. Officials said at least 80 other Palestinians are injured after two days of Israeli raids.
The news follows Israel's attacks on the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad on Tuesday. Israel's air raid in Gaza City killed an Islamic Jihad commander and his wife, along with other members of the group's military wing. Islamic Jihad responded with a barrage of rockets, which were mostly intercepted by Israel's defense system. Israel, in turn, responded with more airstrikes.
Meanwhile, Syria's state news agency said a separate strike in Damascus killed two people, including the son of the group's deputy leader.
Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, condemned the airstrikes as a "continuation of the Israeli aggression and terrorism against the Palestinian people and resistance."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was not looking to escalate the situation but would respond harshly to any attack.
In the meantime, Egyptian and U.N officials are pushing for a cease-fire. In a statement released Wednesday, the U.N.'s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process said continued escalation between armed Palestinian groups and Israel would only "undermine the efforts to improve the dire socio-economic conditions in Gaza."
Nearly 2 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, a small, impoverished Palestinian territory that has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade for more than a decade. Freedom of movement is severely restricted, and Human Rights Watch reports that at least 17,000 Palestinians there are still displaced following Israel's Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.