• Monday, October 20, 2014

Israel pounds Gaza defying truce calls

7 more killed as toll tops 1900; France, Britain, Germany urge immediate ceasefire; US hopes deal in 'coming hours'

Afp, Gaza City
Palestinians offer Juma prayers in the shadow of a toppled minaret at a mosque hit by Israeli strikes in Gaza City, as Israel and Gazan militants resumed cross-border attacks after a three-day truce expired. The photo was taken on Friday. Photo: AP
Palestinians offer Juma prayers in the shadow of a toppled minaret at a mosque hit by Israeli strikes in Gaza City, as Israel and Gazan militants resumed cross-border attacks after a three-day truce expired. The photo was taken on Friday. Photo: AP

Israeli warplanes pummelled Gaza with 50 air strikes that killed seven Palestinians yesterday as militants slammed 23 rockets into Israel, defying international efforts to find a fresh ceasefire.

Britain, France and Germany yesterday called in a joint statement for Israel and Hamas to agree a truce "immediately".

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through central London and Cape Town, condemning Israel's one-month military assault into Gaza.

Gaza emergency services said seven men were killed in Israeli raids -- two in a car driving in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, two travelling by motorcycle through Al-Maghazi refugee camp and three pulled from the rubble of Al-Qassam mosque in the middle of the enclave.

The Palestinian interior ministry said Israeli jets destroyed three mosques. At least two of them were considered close to Hamas.

The army said 23 rockets rained on Israel, bringing to 61 the number of projectiles launched at the Jewish state since a 72-hour truce ended on Friday.

One Israeli civilian and a soldier were wounded on Friday.

Israel said it had carried out more than 100 strikes in Gaza since Friday morning, 49 of them yesterday, targeting those responsible for the rocket fire.

But combat has not resumed at the same fierce intensity like before the truce, feeding hopes of a new truce bring agreed.

"Our hope is that the parties will agree to an extension of the ceasefire in the coming hours," US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

In the occupied West Bank, 15 Palestinian youths were injured in clashes with Israeli troops, who used rubber bullets and live fire to disperse stone throwers in the town of Hebron, medics told AFP.

The trouble broke out after the funeral of a Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli troops during protests against the Gaza operation on Friday, witnesses said.

Similar clashes also erupted in Ramallah. Israeli troops responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

The 72-hour truce collapsed after mediators in Cairo failed to extend a ceasefire when it expired on Friday morning as Israel accused Hamas of breaching the quiet with pre-dawn rocket attacks.

The conflict has now killed at least 1,913 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers, since July 8. The United Nations says at least 1,354 of the Palestinian dead were civilians, including 447 children.

In Gaza, Hamas, which Israel brands a terror organisation, vowed no concessions.

The lifting of Israel's land and sea blockade, imposed in 2006 after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, has been a key demand of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in Cairo talks.

A Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity Egypt and the Palestinians had reached a draft agreement for submission to Israel later yesterday.

It would see Egypt and the Palestinian Authority take control of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, essentially activating part a unity accord Hamas signed with the PA in April.

Negotiations on the sea port, demanded by Hamas, would then be delayed and entrusted to the PA, with whom Israel is prepared to deal.

Israel waged the conflict to destroy Hamas's arsenal of rockets and its network of attack tunnels.

Published: 12:01 am Sunday, August 10, 2014

Last modified: 9:52 pm Sunday, August 10, 2014

TAGS: strikes Palestinians Israeli pummelled Gaza Al-Qassam mosque

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