Palestine: Israel assault on Gaza, kills 15 more people, rising death toll to 1046

29th Jul 2014
Palestine: Israel assault on Gaza, kills 15 more people, rising death toll to 1046

 

 

[Photo: Dead child carried by father]

 

Three children were among more than 15 people killed in Israeli raids across Gaza late on Monday, shortly after Palestinian gunmen slipped into Israel from the Gaza Strip, before entering clashes with occupation forces.

The latest deaths raise to 1,046 the total number of Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of whom civilians, killed in Israel’s US-backed terror campaign against Gaza which began on July 8.

At least 6,233 Palestinians have also been injured since the beginning of the assault.

Hamas said in a statement their fighters had killed 10 Israeli soldiers in the incident before returning home safely. But an Israeli security source told AFP that five Palestinian fighters were shot dead in the gun battle with Israel troops.

Five people, including three children, were killed when a tank shell slammed into a house in the northern town of Jabalia on Monday evening, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Another person died in a strike on central Gaza, and ten more were killed in and around the southern city of Khan Younis, including four members of one family, and leaving another 20 people injured, he added.

Earlier on Monday, an Israeli airstrike hit a public garden in the Beach refugee camp in northern Gaza killing 10 people, eight of them children, and injuring 46 according to medics, ending a relative lull in fighting during the Muslim Eid holiday.

The attack brought the death toll in 21 days of attacks to at least 1,085. More than 47 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces or found under rubble on Monday alone, at least 12 of them children. At least 6,470 Palestinians have been injured since the beginning of the Israeli offensive.

Palestinian medical sources blamed the refugee camp killings on the Israeli military, with witnesses saying the missiles had been fired from a fighter jet.

“An F-16 fired five rockets at a street in Shati (Beach) camp where children were playing, killing some of them and injuring many more,” one told AFP.

Another explosion shook the grounds of Gaza’s main Shifa hospital on Tuesday, witnesses and an AFP reporter said. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

Pools of blood lay on the ground in the Beach refugee camp garden in the aftermath of the explosion.

“We came out of the mosque when I saw the children playing with their toy guns. Seconds later a missile landed,” said Munther Al-Derbi, a resident of the camp.

“May God punish … Netanyahu,” he said, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier on the same day, Israeli tank fire killed a four-year-old boy in the northern Gaza Strip, in what was the first death since the two sides began observing an unofficial truce, Palestinian medics said.

According to Qudra, the child was killed when a shell hit a house to the east of Jabalia where fighting had recently erupted between Israeli soldiers occupying Gaza and Hamas forces.

The boy, Samih Ijneid, was the first person to be killed in Gaza on Monday although three others also succumbed to their injuries during the night, Qudra said, including a man injured in a July 11 strike.

The latest deaths raise to 1,046 the total number of Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of whom civilians, killed in Israel’s US-backed terror campaign against Gaza which began on July 8.

At least 6,233 Palestinians have also been injured since the beginning of the assault.

Israeli media also reported that four civilians were killed when a rocket launched from Gaza hit the Eshkol Regional Council in the occupied Negev.

Israel had initially eased its assault against the Gaza Strip and Palestinian rocket fire from the besieged enclave declined sharply on Monday, as a fragile Eid al-Fitr truce appeared to be holding up.

But the Associated Press reported that Israeli war jets bombed three targets in central and northern Gaza in the late morning, shattering nearly 12 hours of relative calm.

The occupation forces had said they would halt attacks against Gaza unless rocket fire is renewed.

But Israeli soldiers were still occupying Gaza under the pretext of searching for tunnels.

Hamas said on Sunday it wanted a 24-hour truce to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan, which started on Monday. In the hours after its announcement, Gaza gradually fell quiet.

Just one rocket was fired out of the battered coastal territory at Ashkelon in the first nine hours of Monday, the occupation army said. Gaza residents reported brief bursts of tank shelling and no casualties.

But just before noon, Israel’s occupation army claimed it bombed a facility for manufacturing rockets, and two rocket launchers in response to the single rocket fired from Gaza.

The UN Security Council called on both sides to implement a humanitarian truce that stretched beyond Eid.

Netanyahu’s security cabinet met into the early hours of Monday to debate ceasefire proposals and also a possible escalation of the Gaza assault.

Israel says 47 of its soldiers have been killed by Palestinian forces, along with three civilians killed by rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.

Four soldiers killed on Monday had been initially identified as civilians by Israeli media.

There was little mood for celebration in Gaza City as the three-day holiday of Eid al-Fitr got under way.

Several hundred people arrived for early-morning prayers at the al-Omari mosque. 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.”

As night fell over Gaza on Monday, Israeli army flares illuminated the sky and the sound of intense shelling could be heard.

Netanyahu: “We must prepare for a lengthy campaign”

Following increasingly urgent calls by the UN and the US for an “immediate ceasefire,” a senior source in the West Bank said Palestinian Authority 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.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel must be ready for a “lengthy” military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

“We must be prepared for a lengthy campaign” in Gaza, he said in a televised speech.

“Israeli citizens cannot live with the threat from rockets and from death tunnels — death from above and from below,” he said.
“We will not end this operation without neutralizing the tunnels whose sole purpose is killing our citizens.”

Israeli military Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said in a statement that Gaza civilians should stay away from Hamas.

“Gaza residents should distance themselves from areas in which Hamas is acting because we will get there and it will be painful,” he said, shortly after the army sent messages to residents living near Gaza City to flee their homes.

“A short while ago, phonecalls were made and text messages were sent out to the civilian population of Shujayeh, Zeitoun and eastern Jabaliya calling them to evacuate immediately towards central Gaza City,” an army statement said, referring to areas north, south and east of Gaza City.

It said it had also sent similar messages to the civilian population of Jabaliya, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya in the north.

Shortly afterwards, the cloudy skies over Gaza lit up with flashes as the army began an intensive wave of air strikes and heavy shelling across the strip, AFP correspondents said.

Netanyahu and Gantz’s statements stood in contrast with earlier comments by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, who said Israel and the Palestinians have expressed “serious interest” in a 24-hour truce in the Gaza conflict. Ban said a deal has yet to be reached, as he raised concerns about the proportionality of Israel’s military operation.

“The people of Gaza have nowhere to run. They are trapped and besieged on a speck of land. Every area is a civilian area,” Ban told reporters in New York on Monday after returning from a week in the Middle East trying to help broker a ceasefire.

“The casualty and damage figures also raise serious questions about proportionality,” he said.

Under international humanitarian law, proportionality means refraining from launching an attack when it is expected to cause excessive loss of civilian life in relation to the anticipated military advantage.

Ban, who spoke with Netanyahu on Monday, said the temporary pause in fighting during the weekend “revealed how much the massive Israeli assault has devastated the lives of the people of Gaza,” where some 1.8 million people live.

“Some described it as a ‘man-made hurricane’ – whole neighborhoods reduced to debris, rubble; blocks of flattened apartment buildings; scores of bodies still buried under mountains of twisted wreckage,” Ban said.

“It’s a matter of their political will,” Ban told reporters of the obstacle to a ceasefire in Gaza. “They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian.”

He said it was “morally wrong” for the leaders to allow the deadly violence to continue.

US President Barack Obama phoned Netanyahu on Monday to demand an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire”, in a call echoed hours later by the UN Security Council.

Egypt on Monday condemned Israel for using what it said was “excessive force” against civilians in the Gaza Strip.

It also urged Israel and Hama to abide by the “humanitarian truce” proposed by Cairo and backed by the United Nations.

“Egypt condemns the excessive use of force from the Israeli side against civilians” in the coastal enclave, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

A ceasefire is the “only way to preserve civilian lives, innocent blood and end the seige on Gaza that will allow our Palestinian brothers to achieve their legitimate aspiration of an independent state,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry Monday said that international efforts to agree a truce in Gaza must lead to the disarmament of Hamas.

Kerry told reporters he was continuing to work “toward establishing an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire.” But he added: “We also believe that any process to resolved the crisis in Gaza in a lasting and meaningful way must lead to the disarmament of Hamas and all terrorist groups.”

Kerry did not discuss the lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza as a solution to the crisis.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned Israel’s offensive in Gaza as a “massacre” on Monday, joining international calls for a halt to the bloodshed.

“What’s happening in Gaza is dangerous. I don’t think it’s a genocide, but I think it’s a massacre,” Rousseff said at a forum organized by newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, endorsing the United Nations’ call for an immediate ceasefire.

“It’s a humanitarian issue. This can’t be done in such a small strip (of territory), with people who are in a situation of great insecurity, very threatened, with many women and children,” she said.

“We know that in a war like this, the ones who pay are the civilians.”

She criticized the Israeli campaign as “disproportionate” — echoing a statement released by the Brazilian foreign ministry last week when it recalled its ambassador to Israel, a move that caused a row between the two countries.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor had responded by calling Brazil a “diplomatic dwarf.”

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

 

 

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/israel-eases-assault-gaza-24-hour-eid-al-fitr-truce-sets

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