Gaza death toll rises amid cease-fire talks

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli warplanes struck targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, raising the Palestinian death toll and the militants repeatedly firing rockets that reached deep into Israel, according to reports that the sides are searching. Armistice Agreement.

As Egyptian authorities worked on a deal, seven more people were killed in Gaza, bringing the Palestinian death toll to 36 since the Israeli offensive began on Friday. The dead included 11 children and four women. The Palestinian Health Ministry said more than 311 people had been injured since Friday.

The Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel in response, and the cross-border fighting threatens to turn into full-scale war unless there is a ceasefire. Israel says some of the dead were killed by misfired rockets.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas group, which waged an 11-day war with Israel in May 2021, appears to have stayed on the sidelines for now, perhaps because it fears an Israeli backlash and restores an economic understanding with Israel, including Israeli work permits for thousands of Gazans. which increases its control.

If that happens, the ceasefire efforts may bear fruit. According to an Egyptian intelligence official, both Israel and Palestinian terror groups gave initial approval to the cease-fire offer earlier on Sunday but it was unclear when it would take effect. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss ongoing discussions.

While Israel did not address the cease-fire talks, Islamic Jihad spokesman Tarek Selmi downplayed expectations of a deal, citing mounting Palestinian deaths.

“So far there is no talk of a ceasefire, no talk of mediators, the talk is on the aggressive behavior of the Zionist enemy,” he said. “The battle is on.”

Israel began its operation with a strike on Friday against the leader of Islamic Jihad and followed it up with another targeted attack on another key leader on Saturday.

Another Islamic Jihad commander, Khaled Mansour, was killed late Saturday in an airstrike on an apartment building in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, which also killed two other militants and five civilians.

YouTube video thumbnails

Mansour, the Islamic Jihad commander for southern Gaza, was in the apartment of a member of the group when the missile hit, flattening the three-story building and badly damaging nearby houses.

“Suddenly, without warning, the house next door to us was bombed and in the blink of an eye everything was blackened and dusty with smoke,” said Wisam Jouda, who lives next door to the targeted building.

Another neighbor, Ahmed al-Qaisi, said the injured included his wife and son, who suffered shrapnel wounds. To make way for rescue workers, Al-Qaisi agreed to demolish part of his house.

As Mansour’s funeral began in the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, the Israeli military said it was attacking a suspected “Islamic Jihad rocket launch post”. Smoke could be seen from the strikes as their explosions rocked Gaza. Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire continued for hours as sirens sounded in central Israel. Sirens rang as far north as Tel Aviv as the sunset call to prayer sounded in Gaza on Sunday night.

Israel says some deaths during the round have been caused by errant rocket fire, including an incident in the Jebalia refugee camp in northern Gaza that killed six Palestinians on Saturday. On Sunday, a projectile hit a house in the same Jebaliya area, killing two people. The Palestinians blamed Israel, while Israel said it was investigating whether an errant rocket hit the area.

Israel’s Defense Ministry said the mortars fired from Gaza crossed the Erez border into Israel, which is used by thousands of Gazans every day. The mortar damaged the roof and shrapnel hit the hall’s entrance, the ministry said. The crossing has been closed in the wake of clashes.

The Rafah strike was the deadliest so far in the current round of fighting that Israel launched on Friday, including the targeted killing of an Islamic Jihad commander for northern Gaza.

Israel said it took action against the militant group because of concrete threats of an imminent attack, but did not provide details. Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who is a seasoned diplomat but unpredictable in overseeing the war, launched an offensive three months before a general election in which he is campaigning to keep the job.

In a statement on Sunday, Lapid said the military would continue to attack targets in Gaza “in a precise and responsible manner to minimize harm to non-combatants.” Lapid said the strike that killed Mansour was “an extraordinary success”.

“The operation will continue as long as necessary,” Lapid said.

Israel estimates that about 15 militants were killed in its airstrikes.

Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its weapons. Both groups call for the destruction of Israel, but Hamas is constrained by the regime’s demands.

The Israeli military said militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets at Israel. The military said its air defense intercepted several of them, two of which were fired in the direction of Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas.

Air raid sirens sounded in the Jerusalem area for the first time since last year’s Israel-Hamas war.

Jerusalem is typically a flashpoint during cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza. On Sunday, hundreds of Jews, including firebrand ultra-nationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gavir, visited a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. The visit ended without incident under heavy police presence, police said.

Such demonstrations by Israeli hardliners seeking to underline Israeli claims to sovereignty over disputed Jerusalem have led to violence in the past. The holy site sits on the fault line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is central to the narrative of rivalry between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

In Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank, Israeli security forces said they detained 19 people suspected of being linked to Islamic Jihad during overnight raids.

The fighting began after Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in an airstrike on Friday, which Israel said was aimed at preventing an imminent attack.

As of Sunday, Hamas still appeared far from war. The group has a strong incentive to avoid another war. Last year’s Israel-Hamas war, one of four major conflicts and several smaller ones in the past 15 years, exacted a staggering toll on the impoverished region’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents.

Since the last war, Israel and Hamas have reached a peaceful understanding based on a truce for work permits and a slight relaxation of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt 15 years ago. Israel has issued 12,000 work permits to Gaza laborers and plans to issue another 2,000.

The only power plant in the Gaza Strip shut down on Saturday afternoon due to a lack of fuel. Israel has closed crossing points into Gaza since Tuesday. With the new outages, Gazans can only use electricity for four hours a day, increasing their dependence on private generators and deepening the region’s chronic power crisis amid high summer heat.

___

Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel.

Source link

Leave a Comment