GAZA CITY (Ma’an): At least 26 were killed and 241 injured across the Gaza Strip on Monday night as Israel resumed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip from air, land, and sea.
Talks for a ceasefire, meanwhile, appeared stillborn after Israeli Prime Minister warned in a speech that the campaign could last long, even as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rushed to Cairo to meet with Hamas representatives.
The renewed evening assault brought the total of Palestinians killed Monday to 44, while another 12 bodies were recovered from the rubble by medical teams earlier in the day.
Gaza Ministry of Health Spokesman said over the last 21 days, a total of 1,088 Palestinians have been killed and 6,470 have been injured. Of the dead, 251 have been children and 50 have been elderly, while 1,980 children and 259 elderly have been among the injured.
The figures include 10 people who were killed on Monday following an Israeli air strike on a children’s playground in al-Shati refugee camp in the afternoon, where family outings to celebrate the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday ended in horror with eight children among the dead.
Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that children had been wearing clothes given to them as gifts for the Eid and many families had chosen to take advantage of a relative lull in the 21-day assault to head to the park in the seaside neighborhood where the strike occurred.
Although Israel has blamed the deaths on a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket, Gaza police who inspected the rubble and victims’ bodies as well as eyewitnesses confirmed the strike was Israeli.
Israel stepped up its bombardment Monday night in response to rocket fire by Palestinians, as well as a mortar fire that killed four soldiers in southern Israel.
The attack brought the total number of Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict to 43. Fewer than 10 percent of Israeli casualties have been civilian, while Gaza-based rights group estimate that Palestinian deaths have been more than 90 percent civilian, including nearly 300 children.
Meanwhile, Israel had told at least 400,000 Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes via text and phone, raising terror among Gazans that all those who stayed would be treated as legitimate targets.
All borders in and out of Gaza remain closed shut, as Israel has maintained its complete blockade of the tiny coastal enclave intact over the course of its 21-day assault.
Following increasingly urgent calls by the UN and the US for an “immediate ceasefire,” a senior source in the West Bank said Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was heading to Cairo with Hamas representatives for fresh talks on ending the violence in Gaza.
“Abbas is forming a Palestinian delegation including Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives to meet Egyptian leaders and discuss a halt to Israel’s aggression against Gaza,” the source told AFP, without saying when the talks would take place.
“The aim is to examine with Egyptian leaders how to meet Palestinian demands and put an end to the aggression,” he said.
Earlier US President Barack Obama phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to demand an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire,” in a call echoed hours later by the UN Security Council.
Obama’s demand for an “immediate, unconditional” ceasefire has strained US-Israeli ties and put Netanyahu in a tight spot with hardliners in his government, commentators say.
It came after the UN Security Council appealed for both sides to accept an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” to permit the urgent delivery of aid, in a non-binding statement which elicited disappointment from the Palestinian envoy.
‘Eid of martyrs’
There was little mood for celebration in Gaza City as the three-day festival of Eid al-Fitr that ends the holy fasting month of Ramadan got under way.
Several hundred people arrived for early-morning prayers at the Al-Omari mosque, bowing and solemnly whispering their worship. But instead of going to feast with relatives, most went straight home while others went to pay their respects to the dead.
Among them was Ahed Shamali whose 16-year-old son who was killed by a tank shell several days ago.
“He was just a kid,” he said, standing by the grave. “This is the Eid of the martyrs.”
The deaths continue
Ministry of Health Spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra provided a continuing toll of the deaths and injuries across the Gaza Strip Monday night and Tuesday morning.
The deaths and injuries are provided here in chronological order, with the most recent as the latest.
Six Palestinians were killed in airstrike on two homes in the central Gaza Strip. He named the victims as Ramzy Hossein al-Far, 68, Salam Muhammad al-Far, 59, Issa Kamel Musa, 62, Abd al-Samad Mahmoud Ahmad Ramadan, 16, Ayman Adnan Musa Shokr, 25, and Azza Abd al-Karim al-Haman al-Falleit, 44.
Fayeza Ahmad al-Futtah, 59, succumbed to wounds she received earlier in the day in Jabaliya.
Ali Hassan Hassan al-Huwwari, 31, died as a result of wounds received on July 21.
Mahmoud Abd al-Jalil Abu Kwik, 31, and fife others were injured in Gaza City.
Five Palestinians were killed and 20 injured in a strike near the Islamic University in Khan Younis. The dead were identified as Muhammad Jumaa Shaat, 30, Muhammad Fadhel al-Agha, Ahmad Nader al-Agha, Marwa Nader al-Agha, Dalia Nader al-Agha.
Five were also killed and 20 injured in an Israeli strike on Khan Younis, which killed Najy Ahmad al-Raqqab, 19, Ramy Khaled al-Raqqab, 35, Mahmoud Osama al-Qosas, Shadi Abd al-Kareem Farwana, Mustafa Abd al-Samiee al-Ubadala.
Five were killed, including three children elderly, and 50 were injured in shelling in Jabaliya. The dead were identified as Maryam Khalil Ruba, 70, Hani Abu Khalifah, a child named Yusef Emad Qaddoura, a child named Huna Emad Qaddoura, and another child named Muhammad Musa Alwan.
18 were injured in strikes across the central and northern Gaza Strip.
15 injured, mostly children, in an Israeli strike on Sheikh Radwan.
Yahiya Mohammad Abdullah al-Aqqad, 49, was killed and three more injured in a strike on al-Fakhari.
AFP contributed to this report.