Deaths mount as Israel-Gaza violence worsens further
• Hamas fires more than 1,600 rockets from Gaza at Israel • 83 people have died in the Gaza Strip, while 7 in Israel
ISRAELI fighter jets have continued attacking high-rise buildings and other targets in the Gaza Strip as Israel boosted its deployment of troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave on Thursday.
Israel has begun firing artillery and tank shells into Gaza, and scores of families are fleeing their homes. Palestinians marked the first day of the Eid Al Fitr holiday under relentless aerial bombardment with Gaza’s health ministry saying at least 87 people, including 18 children, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began late on Monday. More than 530 others have been wounded.
There have also been more violent confrontations between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel in several cities inside Israel.
THE con ict between Israel and the Gaza Strip has intensi ed, with dozens of casualties, continued rocket re and the Israeli army expanding its attacks on the coastal enclave.
Warnings sirens sounded again in Tel Aviv on Thursday, amid what appears to be a fth round of rocket attacks out of the Gaza Strip.
Explosions could be heard within the city, coming less than a day after Tel Aviv’s worst ever night of rocket attacks.
Hamas, the de facto Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip, has now red more than 1,600 rockets from Gaza at Israel since the latest are-up of ghting began earlier this week, Israel’s military said early on Thursday.
Around 400 of the rockets went down over Gaza and failed to reach Israeli territory, spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said.
The success rate of Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system at intercepting rockets continues to average around 90 percent, he added.
Seven people have died in Israel since the rocket launches began on Monday, six civilians and one soldier, Conricus said.
In the Gaza Strip, 83 people have died amid the ghting, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Israel’s military has attacked almost 1,000 targets in the Gaza Strip with massive airstrikes, destroying three multi-storey buildings, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
“It will take some time, but with great determination, both offensive and defensive, we will reach our goal: to restore calm in the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said during a visit to a missile defence unit.
Israel blames Hamas for any attacks from Gaza. The group is classi ed as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the European Union.
The Israeli security Cabinet decided late on Wednesday to expand its military operation, with the army targeting “symbols of the Hamas regime” in Gaza, according to broadcaster Kanal 12.
Until midday, the Israeli army targeted four groups of Hamas ghters who were about to shoot anti-tank missiles, the security forces said.
The army also struck a military property with ramps to shoot anti-tank missiles.
Hamas also signalled it would continue ghting. “The decision to target Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beer Sheva is easier to us than drinking a sip of water,” a spokesperson for the alQassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas, said.
According to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Hamas rockets accidentally hit a power line in the Gaza Strip, leaving about 230,000 people without electricity.
COGAT said a desalination plant was also affected, leaving 250,000 people without water, but did not give further details.
Palestinian Dua al-Lou, 40, called the situation in Gaza “tragic and extremely scary,” saying the dif cult living conditions in the enclave were “bad as never before” because of the violence.
The airstrikes and rocket attacks followed violent clashes in recent days at the Jerusalem holy site known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims.
The violence has continued to spill over into the streets. In Acre in northern Israel, a Jewish resident suffered life-threatening injuries after being attacked by Arab protesters, according to broadcasters.
In southern Bat Yam, a Jewish mob beat an Arab resident with sticks, local media reported, and Arab shops were attacked.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the street violence, saying it was “a real threat for Israeli sovereignty.” The international community has called for a halt to the ghting.
An Egyptian security delegation is in Tel Aviv as part of mediation efforts launched by Cairo to reach a cease re, a security source said.
The delegation wants to reach a bilateral cease re agreement, the source added, and will also discuss a halt to the eviction of Palestinian homes by Israel in Jerusalem. A delegation was already in Gaza for talks with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group on Wednesday.
The source said the Israeli side is refusing to stop the attacks ahead of an expected intensi ed operation targeting the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, Lufthansa has suspended all ights to Tel Aviv until Friday due to the continued attacks. The German airline said it aims to resume ights on Saturday and was following the situation on the ground, with regular contact with the authorities, security services and employees.
Earlier on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups in a call with Netanyahu.
He conveyed support for “Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”
Later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and emphasised the need to de-escalate tensions.
Abbas is the head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which does not include Hamas.