The Star Late Edition

Death toll in Gaza rises


ISRAEL said it killed 16 members of the Hamas military wing in a Gaza air strike yesterday and Palestinia­n militants rained rockets into Israel as global concern mounted over their most intense hostilitie­s in years.

At least 53 people have been killed in Gaza since violence escalated on Monday, according to the enclave’s health ministry. Six people had been killed in Israel, medical officials said.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said the brigade commander for Gaza City was among senior members of Hamas who had been killed.

“This is just the beginning. We’ll hit them like they’ve never dreamed possible,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

Soon after the announceme­nt, a new rocket barrage was fired at the Israeli city of Ashdod and Israeli media said the military was preparing for new salvoes on the Tel Aviv area.

Hamas confirmed the brigade commander’s death and the loss of “other leaders and warriors” and said in a statement: “Thousands of leaders and soldiers will follow in their footsteps.”

A Palestinia­n source said truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the UN had made no progress to end violence that flared this week after tension during Ramadaan and clashes in East Jerusalem. The offensive is the heaviest between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in the Hamas-ruled enclave, and concern is growing that the situation could spiral out of control.

In Gaza, a multi-storey residentia­l building collapsed after Israel warned its occupants in advance to evacuate, and another was heavily damaged in the air strikes. Other air strikes hit what Israel’s military said were rocket launch

sites, Hamas offices and the homes of Hamas leaders. Israeli officials said at least 41 Palestinia­n fighters had been killed in the Gaza hostilitie­s so far.

Sixteen people were killed in Israeli air strikes yesterday, Gaza’s health ministry said. Witnesses and health officials in Gaza said one Israeli air strike killed three people, including a woman, in a car. Along the Gaza border, an Israeli was killed by an anti-tank missile, Israel’s ambulance service said. Two people were killed by

a rocket in Lod, near Tel Aviv.

Tension also spilled over in mixed Arab-Jewish towns in Israel where there have been demonstrat­ions over the hostilitie­s. A synagogue was torched in Lod.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz told reporters the Israeli military action would continue until “complete and long-term quiet” was achieved.

Hamas’s armed wing said it fired 210 rockets towards Beersheba in southern Israel and at Tel Aviv overnight

in response to the strikes on the tower buildings in Gaza City. “If they (Israeli forces) want to escalate, the resistance is ready, if they want to stop, the resistance is ready,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said.

Violence has also flared in the occupied West Bank. Medical sources said a 16-year-old Palestinia­n was killed in clashes with Israeli forces yesterday.

Gaza’s health ministry said 14 of the people reported killed in the enclave were children.

 ?? | AFP ?? FIREFIGHTE­RS examine a bus in the town of Holon, near Tel Aviv, that was hit by rockets fired from Gaza.
| AFP FIREFIGHTE­RS examine a bus in the town of Holon, near Tel Aviv, that was hit by rockets fired from Gaza.

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