Gaza - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he ordered the military to continue “massive strikes” against militants in Gaza as a surge in cross-border hostilities ran into a third day.
A rocket fired from Gaza killed an Israeli civilian on Sunday and two Palestinian fighters were killed in an Israeli strike, with no sign of any impending ceasefire in the most serious border flare-up since November. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli strikes had killed six Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her 14-month-old daughter, Seba Abu Arar, in their east Gaza City home Saturday.
The Israeli occupation military said more than 450 rockets, many of them intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system, have been fired at southern Israeli cities and villages since Friday, and it attacked some 220 targets belonging to Gaza groups.
The regime’s police said one of the rockets hit a house in the city of Ashkelon, killing a 58-year-old man. That marked the first Israeli civilian fatality in a rocket strike from Gaza since 2014.
The sudden outburst in fighting has broken a month-long lull. Egyptian mediators had been trying to negotiate a long-term cease-fire between the two sides.
In Gaza, large explosions thundered across the blockaded enclave during the night as plumes of smoke rose into the air. One of the air strikes hit a six-story commercial and residential building that housed the office of Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called it a “new example of Israel’s unrestrained aggression”.
For Gazans, the Israeli attacks come of Ramadan that begins Monday.
In recent days, Hamas accused Israel of reneging on its pledges as fighters began to fire rockets into Israel. Israel in turn accuses Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday.
Though it says the shooting was not coordinated with Hamas, and that Islamic Jihad has been undermining Hamas of late, Israel still holds Hamas responsible for all the fire as the territory’s ruling power.
Islamic Jihad has threatened to fire longer range rockets toward Israel’s heartland, and in a video that also was seen as an implicit claim of responsibility, it showed archived footage of militants attaching warheads to rockets.
It threatened to shatter the shaky understandings recently reached though Egyptian mediators. Israel had agreed to expand a fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, increased imports into Gaza and allow the Gulf state of Qatar to deliver aid to cash-strapped Gaza. Gaza leaders were in Cairo trying to reach a new cease-fire.
On Friday, two Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli occupation forces during the weekly protests along Israel-Gaza perimeter fence. Palestinian militants also shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers along the border fence. No group claimed responsibility for the shooting. Israeli regime aircraft carried out strikes, killing two Hamas men.
Hamas has hoped that Egyptian mediators could further ease the blockade, which has ravaged Gaza’s economy.