Israel has vowed no easing of its aerial bombardment of Gaza, which has killed at least 120 Palestinians, as a defiant Hamas rained more rockets on the Jewish state.
A charity for disabled people and a mosque in which Israel claims weapons were concealed were reported to be among the latest targets struck as the Palestinians and their international supporters began drafting a UN resolution calling for “an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire”.
Diplomatic efforts to end the hostilities have gathered pace, with Barack Obama phoning Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Washington offering to use its relationships in the Middle East to help end the hostilities.
Early on Saturday, 16 Palestinians were reported to have died in a wave of Israeli air strikes as Operation Protective Edge entered its fifth day. Among them were two people killed in a strike that hit a charitable association for the disabled in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, and another three people died in an attack in western Gaza City. Another strike killed three in the eastern Tufah neighbourhood of Gaza City, the Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
A mosque in Gaza was also hit, with Israel saying rockets were concealed there and accusing Hamas, Islamic Jihan and other groups of abusing religious sites to establish underground tunnel networks. Hamas said the bombing illustrated a hostility to Islam and gave the group “the right to broaden our response to deter this occupier”.
The overall death toll had passed 120, with 920 wounded, medics said. The Israeli army Twitter account said overnight strikes “hit over 60 terror targets, making a total of 1,160 since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge”.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said he would not end the military campaign until he achieved his goal of stopping the Hamas fire.
“No international pressure will prevent us from striking, with all force, against the terrorist organisation which calls for our destruction,” he said. “No terrorist target in Gaza is immune.”
Despite international concern, truce efforts have been unsuccessful, according to Cairo, which has played a key role in mediating previous Hamas-Israel ceasefires.
“Egypt has communicated with all sides to halt violence against civilians and called on them to continue with the truce agreement signed in November 2012,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said. “Unfortunately, these efforts … have met with stubbornness.”.. see more
source: Guardian UK