Israel Carries out ‘Massive Strikes’ on Gaza: 24 Palestinians, 4 Israelis Killed (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)

A Palestinian girl cries at the funeral of two young men killed by Israeli army missiles in Gaza. (Photo: Quds)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered “massive strikes” on the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation that killed 24 Palestinians and four Israelis.

Israeli warplanes and gunboats continued to target the Gaza Strip on Sunday as fighters in the besieged enclave fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel.

A 34-year-old Hamas commander was killed in what the Israeli military described as a targeted strike. An army statement accused Hamad al-Khodori of “transferring large sums of money” from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.

He was the fifth Palestinian reported killed on Sunday. By the end of the day, the number of Palestinian killed climbed to 24 with nearly 200 others wounded.

Other Palestinian victims included a pregnant woman and her one-year-old niece, who were both killed in Gaza on Saturday.

In the Israeli city of Ashkelon, an Israeli man was killed after being struck by shrapnel from a rocket attack. Two other Israelis, critically wounded in a separate rocket attacks on a factory on Sunday afternoon, later died. A fourth Israel was declared dead later in the evening.

“This morning I instructed the IDF [the Israeli Army] to continue with massive strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu, who doubles as Israeli defense minister, said in a statement after consulting with his security cabinet on Sunday.

He said he had also ordered “tanks, artillery and infantry forces” to reinforce troops already deployed near Gaza, a move that raised fears of a ground invasion.

“Hamas is responsible not only for its attacks against Israel, but also for the Islamic Jihad’s attacks, and it is paying a very heavy price for it,” Netanyahu added.

Armed factions in Gaza, otherwise known as the Joint Operations Room, which include the military wing of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, vowed on Saturday to “extend its response” if the Israeli army continued to target the strip.

“Our response will be broader and more painful in the event [Israel’s] extends in aggression, and we will remain the protective shield of our people and our land,” the Joint Operations Room said in a statement.

The government media office in Gaza said Israeli warplanes carried out about 150 raids, in addition to artillery-shelling targeting 200 civilian landmarks in the Gaza Strip, including residential buildings, mosques, shops and media institutions.

About 200 Palestinians were wounded in the attacks, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

“There was a lot of bombing, the neighbors were affected a lot, the street scene was indescribable, people were afraid and terrified and running, and everyone was looking for their children, nobody was able to see others,” Abu Absa said.

One of the buildings destroyed had housed the Gaza bureau of the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We call on the international community to act swiftly in order to ease tensions that have increased due to Israel’s disproportionate actions in the region,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

Two of the victims are Falastine Abu Arar, a 37-year-old pregnant mother, and her 14-month old niece Siba, who were killed by Israeli forces. Two Palestinian men, 22-year-old Imad Nseir and 25-year-old Khaled Abu Qaleeq, were also killed by Israeli air raids on Saturday night.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said the two men killed overnight on Sunday, Mahmoud Issa, 26 and Fawzi Bawadi, 23, were members of its armed wing.

In the early afternoon, two more Palestinians were killed after an Israeli air raid targeted a group of people in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujayea, the health ministry said. The men were identified as Bilal Mohammed al-Banna and Abdullah Abu Atta, said to be in their 20s.

Shortly after, in what Palestinians have called the first targeted assassination since 2014, Israeli air raids hit the car of al-Khoudary, the Hamas commander, in Gaza City. Three other Palestinians were wounded on the attack.

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov called on all parties to “immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months.”

“I am deeply concerned by yet another dangerous escalation in Gaza and the tragic loss of life,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of all those who were killed, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”

The latest flare-up came after four other Palestinians were killed in two separate incidents on Friday.

Two of them were shot dead during the weekly Great March of Return protests near the Israeli border east of Gaza, while an air raid targeting a Hamas outpost killed two members of the movement’s armed wing.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas won the elections in Gaza in 2006. The siege tightened following clashes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s main faction, Fatah. The latter was driven out of Gaza in 2007.

Following heavy fighting in late March, Israel agreed to ease the blockade in exchange for a halt to rocket fire. This included expanding a fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, increasing imports into Gaza and allowing the Gulf state of Qatar to deliver aid to the cash-strapped territory.

However, Israel has not delivered on these agreements, and scaled back the expansion of the fishing zone at the end of April.

“Various reported understandings about easing economic restrictions, creating jobs, looking to improving electricity flow in Gaza – there’s been nothing on those lines,” Al Jazeer’s Harry Fawcett said.

About two million Palestinians live in Gaza, whose economy has suffered from years of a blockade as well as recent foreign aid cuts. Unemployment stands at 52 percent, according to the World Bank, and poverty is rampant.

Israel has waged three offensives on Gaza since December 2008.

The last war in 2014 severely damaged Gaza’s already weak infrastructure, prompting the United Nations to warn that the strip would be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

(Al Jazeera. PC, Agencies, Social Media)

Know the Truth about Palestine

Dear Reader,
You have carried us through years of honest and accurate coverage and we are confident that you will carry us through the next stage, which promises to be more critical than ever, for Palestine and for all of us.
Make a contribution to support the Palestine Chronicle.
Click HERE to donate using your credit card or PayPal.
Or, click HERE to learn more.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax deductible)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.