Airstrikes de­stroy apart­ment high-rise

SundayXtra - - TOP NEWS - By Karin Laub And Peter Enav

GAZA, Gaza Strip — Is­rael bombed an apart­ment tower in down­town Gaza City Satur­day, col­laps­ing the 12-storey build­ing in an un­prece­dented strike, while Ha­mas kept up heavy rocket fire that sent more Is­raelis flee­ing bor­der ar­eas close to Gaza.

The vi­o­lence sig­nalled that a speedy re­sump­tion of truce talks is un­likely, de­spite an­other ap­peal by me­di­a­tor Egypt. Gaps between Is­rael and Ha­mas on a bor­der deal for block­aded Gaza re­main vast, and re­peated rounds of talks have ended in fail­ure.

In the Gaza City strike, a huge fire­ball fol­lowed by a black col­umn of smoke rose into the sky af­ter two Is­raeli mis­siles top­pled the Zafer Tower, one in a group of sev­eral high-rises in the up­scale Tel alHawa neigh­bour­hood. Neigh­bour­ing build­ings shook from the blasts.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary said the mis­siles tar­geted a Ha­mas op­er­a­tions room in the build­ing, but did not ex­plain why the en­tire tower with 44 apart­ments was brought down.

Gaza po­lice said a warn­ing mis­sile had been fired five min­utes ear­lier and that some res­i­dents were able to rush out of the build­ing in time. Still, 22 peo­ple were wounded, in­clud­ing 11 chil­dren and five women, Gaza hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said.

Ma­her Abu Sedo, an area res­i­dent, said the two strikes came within seconds of each other.

“Peo­ple started shout­ing Al­lahu Ak­bar, and women and kids were scream­ing,” he said. “This is crazy. The state of Is­rael has re­sorted to mad­ness. In less than a minute, 44 families have be­come dis­placed... They lost ev­ery­thing, their house, their money, their mem­o­ries and their se­cu­rity.”

Some 100,000 Gazans have be­come home­less, with more than 17,000 homes de­stroyed or dam­aged be­yond re­pair, UN fig­ures show. Satur­day’s strike marked the first time an en­tire apart­ment high-rise was de­stroyed.

Else­where in Gaza, an airstrike on a car killed a man and wounded 11 peo­ple, said Ay­man Sa­ha­bani, head of the emer­gency room at Gaza City’s Shifa Hos­pi­tal. The Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine later iden­ti­fied the man killed as a field com­man­der.

Mean­while, Gaza mil­i­tants fired over 100 rock­ets and mor­tar shells at Is­rael Satur­day.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

ADEL HANA / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An ex­plo­sion at a 12- storey apart­ment hurt at least 22 peo­ple Satur­day.

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