Two killed in new Israeli strike on Gaza, say medics

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GAZA CITY: A Palestinian man and his daughter were killed in a new Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip on Monday, medics said, bringing the toll from three straight days of violence to 23.

Emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya told AFP the latest raid struck the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

“The martyrs are Mohammed Mustafa Al-Hasumi, 65, and his daughter Faiza Al-Hasumi, 35,” he said in a statement.

The deaths raised to five the number of people killed in Gaza on Monday, with 45 wounded in a string of Israeli raids since midnight.

Two of the strikes struck targets around the southern town of Khan Yunis, killing two Islamic Jihad militants.

Palestinians also reported a strike in the northern Gaza Strip that they said killed a 15-year-old boy, but the Israeli army denied any activity in the area at the time of the blast that killed the teenager.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue targeting rocket-firing militants for “as long as necessary” and since midnight, the air force has carried out at least eight air strikes, leaving three dead and 41 wounded, Palestinian medical sources said.

Two of the victims were killed shortly after dawn in separate raids around the southern city of Khan Yunis, which also left two injured.

And shortly afterwards, a 15-year-old boy was killed and six other school children injured in what medics said was another air strike near the northern town of Beit Lahiya.

The killings brought to 21 the death toll from a weekend of tit-for-tat violence that began with Israel’s killing of a senior militant on Friday afternoon.

Adham Abu Selmiya, spokesman for the Gaza emergency services, said 73 people had been injured since the bloodshed began on Friday, and that Israel had carried out 36 air strikes on the territory.

He named the latest victim as Nayef Qarmut saying he was on his way to school when he was killed in a drone strike in Beit Lahiya.

“A drone strike hit a group of students who were walking by empty land on their way to school,” he told AFP, saying six others had been injured, two of whom were in critical condition.

The two killed earlier around Khan Yunis were Islamic Jihad militants, Raafat Abu Eid and Hamada Suleiman Abu Mutlaq, both of them 24 years old, the group said.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the raids, but earlier confirmed it carried out six strikes that “targeted a weapons storage facility and four rocket launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a rocket launching site in the southern Gaza Strip.”

An Israeli army spokeswoman said Gaza militants had fired more than 20 rockets at Israel since midnight, while another two were intercepted.

The overnight rockets raised the total number fired across the border to nearly 180, she added, of which more than 130 hit southern Israel and 46 were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Late on Sunday, Netanyahu warned that operations would “continue as long as necessary.”

“I have given orders to strike all those who plan on attacking us,” he said during a tour of southern Israel, public radio reported.

“The Israeli army has already dealt heavy blows to the terrorist organizations,” he added.

Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for most of the rocket fire into Israel since Friday, quickly issued a statement in response, vowing that “operations will continue whatever the price.”

The group’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, warned on Monday there would be “no calm with the enemy” and said its militants had “hit Beersheva with our Grad rockets,” as well as the city of Ashkelon and the southern community of Sufa, near the Gaza border.

Israel’s top military officer said there would be no end in sight while rocket fire continued.

“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has been responding, and will continue to do so with strength and determination against any firing of rockets at Israel,” said Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz.

Violence has spiked since Friday when Israeli jets raided the Gaza Strip, killing Zuhair Al-Qaisi, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees militant group, and prompting barrages of Palestinian rocket fire into the Jewish state.

The Israeli army said Qaisi was involved in planning a deadly August 2011 attack in which militants sneaked across the border from Egypt’s Sinai and killed eight in Israel’s southern Negev desert.

And it said he was planning a similar attack “in the coming days.”
The violence has prompted concern in the United States and Europe, and on Monday Beijing also weighed in, urging Israel to halt its raids and for the Palestinians to stop their rocket fire.

“China is concerned about the escalation of the situation in Gaza,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

“We call upon the Israeli side to stop air raids against Gaza. We hope parties concerned can stop firing immediately in order to avoid casualties of innocent civilians.”

But there was no sign a truce was on the horizon, although Hamas on Sunday said intensive efforts were underway with the Egyptians to reach a mediated truce.


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