Dozens of Palestinians, including children, suffered from suffocation on Thursday due to inhaling what is being described as a "strange toxic gas" launched by the Israeli army during its ground incursion in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, Anadolu news agency reported.
Anadolu quoted Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra, a spokesperson for the Health Ministry in Gaza, as saying that: "Dozens of Palestinians, including children, arrived at hospitals suffering from suffocation after inhaling a white poisonous gas fired by the Israeli army in the northern Gaza Strip and in the Shawkah neighbourhood near Rafah, to the south."
Al-Qidra urged the Palestinians in Gaza "not to panic when they inhale the strange gas, to protect themselves using tarpaulin coats or nylon clothes and to cover the doors, windows and vents with a moist cloth to prevent air from leaking inside."
As the Israeli assault continued by air and sea, dozens of Israeli military vehicles invaded the Palestinian territories west of the town of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip and in the south near Rafah while Israeli warplanes and helicopters flew over the area at low altitudes, in the largest escalation of violence since the start of the military operation last week.
A spokesperson for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the start of the ground operation against the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, claiming that it aims to destroy the tunnels that Hamas uses to penetrate the Israeli territory.
However, the Middle East Eye reported that one of the first Palestinian casualties of the Israeli ground operation was a three-month old baby named Fares Al-Tarabeen.
The on-going military operation, dubbed by Israel "Operation Protective Edge", has so far resulted in the killing of at least 249 Palestinians and the wounding of 1860 others, according to Palestinian Health Ministry records.