Top of the Morning: 13 Palestinians, 3 Israelis Killed in Sharply Escalating Violence ; UNFPA Makes the Economic Case for Family Planning

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

13 Palestinians, 3 Israelis Killed in Sharply Escalating Violence

After days of sustained rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, Israel began what it describes as a broad assault on militant groups in Gaza with a missile strike that killed a top Hamas commander yesterday.13 Palestinians have been reported killed in this escalating violence, including the infant son of a BBC reporter. A rocket fired from Gaza struck an Israeli apartment building, killing three. Meanwhile, the Egyptian government recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest and the UN Security Council met in an emergency session on Wednesday night to discuss the unfolding crisis. Israel is preparing for a ground incursion in Gaza and has called up its reservists. This is escalating very quickly. (Live Updates from the Guardian

New UN Report Touts Financial Returns on Family Planning Investments

The UN Population Fund released its flagship State of the World Population Report on Wednesday, showing how making voluntary family planning available to everyone in developing countries would reduce costs for maternal and newborn health care by $11.3 billion annually. “Increased access to family planning has proven to be a sound economic investment. One third of the growth of Asian ‘tiger’ economies is attributed to a demographic shift in which the number of income-generating adults became higher than those who depended on them for support. This shift, says the report, was a consequence of family planning and brought increased productivity, leading to economic development in the region. One recent study predicts that if the fertility rate fell by just one child per woman in Nigeria in the next 20 years, the country’s economy would grow by at least $30 billion.” (UNFPA