GAZA CITY (AP) – An Israeli airstrike in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians, most of them minors, on Saturday in the deadliest episode since the start of the most recent confrontations between Israel and Hamas. the insurgent group that rules the Strip. Both sides are trying to gain an advantage as ceasefire efforts intensify.
Hours later, Israel bombed and destroyed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, one of Hamas’s top leaders in the Strip.
The Israeli army said that Al-Hayeh’s house served as part of what it said was the extremist group’s “terror infrastructure”. Al-Hayeh is an important figure in Hamas’s political leadership in Gaza, and the attack marked a further escalation, indicating that Israel is going after the top leaders of that organization, and not just military commanders. It was not immediately known if he survived the attack.
The most recent outbreak of violence originated in Jerusalem and has spread throughout the region, with clashes between Arabs and Jews and riots in Israeli cities where they live together. In the occupied West Bank, there were widespread protests on Friday, killing 11 by Israeli forces.
The spiral of violence has raised fears of a new “intifada” or Palestinian uprising after years without peace talks between the two sides. Palestinians will mark Saturday the Nakba, or Day of Catastrophe, when some 700,000 people fled or were driven from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war that surrounded its creation. This could lead to even more disturbances.
US diplomat Hady Amr arrived in the region on Friday as part of Washington’s efforts to ease tensions and the United Nations Security Council will meet on Sunday, but Israel rejected a proposal from Egypt for a year-long truce that had been accepted by Hamas, an Egyptian official said on Friday, speaking about the negotiations on condition of anonymity.
Since Monday night, Hamas has fired hundreds of projectiles into Israel, which has responded with a series of attacks on Palestinian territory. At least 139 people have died in Gaza, including 39 minors and 22 women, while in Israel there were seven fatalities, including a 6-year-old boy and a soldier.
The rocket fire from the Strip and the Israeli bombardments continued until early Saturday morning, when an airstrike on a three-story house in a Gaza City refugee camp killed eight children and two women of a family.
Mohammed Hadidi told reporters that his wife and five children had come to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday at the end of Ramadan, with relatives. The woman and three of her children, ages 6 to 14, were killed. Another son of the couple, Omar, 5 months old, survived, and the fifth, 11 years old, is missing.
Among the rubble were children’s toys and a Monopoly board, as well as intact plates of food.
“There was no warning,” said Jamal Al-Naji, a neighbor who lives in the same building. “Do they record people eating and then bomb them?” He added, addressing Israel. Why are they fighting us? Go and face the strong people! ”.
The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets into southern Israel in response to this incident.
On the eve, a furious Israeli bombardment killed a family of six in their home and led thousands of Gazans to flee to UN shelters. The army explained that 160 warplanes took part in the operation, which dropped 80 tons of explosives in 40 minutes and managed to destroy a vast network of tunnels used by Hamas.
According to Israeli media, the army believes that dozens of soldiers died inside the tunnels. Both Hamas and the insurgent group Islamic Jihad have confirmed the deaths of 20 of their members, but Israel says the true figure is much higher.
In the occupied West Bank, outside Ramallah, in Nablus, and in other towns and cities, hundreds of Palestinians protested the campaign in Gaza and Israeli actions in Jerusalem. Waving Palestinian flags, they set fire to barricades erected with tires and stoned Israeli soldiers. At least 10 protesters were shot dead and another was killed when he tried to stab a soldier at a military post.
In East Jerusalem, videos posted online showed young Jewish nationalists firing their pistols while stone-throwing Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which became a hot spot for tensions due to attempts by some settlers to expel several families. Palestinian.
On Israel’s northern border, troops opened fire when a group of Lebanese and Palestinian protesters cut through the dividing line and briefly crossed. A Lebanese died.
Krauss reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press journalists Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Lebanon, and Samy Magdy in Cairo, Egypt, contributed to this report.