No rockets or airstrikes as fragile Gaza truce lasts through the night

10 August, 2018, 07:41 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Israel airstrikes

The United Nations' Mideast envoy is expressing his concern about the latest escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas.

Israel did not formally comment on the issue, but an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied a cease-fire had been reached.

A surge in cross border rocket and air strikes in recent weeks have prompted the United Nations and Egypt to try to broker a truce to prevent another one.

Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza on Wednesday night and early Thursday, and Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets including a long-range missile deep into Israel, escalating fighting despite talks on a truce to avert an all-out conflict.

"Factions of the resistance consider this round of escalation over as far as we are concerned, and the continuation of calm depends on the behaviour of the occupation", the Palestinian official said.

Israel captured Gaza in a 1967 war but withdrew in 2005, while holding onto most of the separate West Bank, where Palestinians have limited self-rule.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of the ceasefire talks said Thursday that the truce was to begin at 20:45 GMT.

Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committee, a smaller faction in Gaza, said on his Facebook page: "Upon Egyptian and global efforts, a ceasefire between Palestinian resistance began conditional on the commitment of the occupation".

The attack followed a day of clashes in which Hamas fired close to 200 rockets into Israel and the IDF launched some 150 strikes on targets throughout Gaza.

Three Palestinians have been killed, including a pregnant woman and her 18-month old daughter, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinian Enas Khammash 23, and her 18-month-daughter Bayan, during their funeral in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on August 9, 2018.

The BBC duly complied, changing the headline to "Gaza air strikes 'kill woman and child" after rockets hit Israel'.

The Gaza Strip
Israeli warplanes have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip

Ambulance sirens echoed through the night in Gaza, where families huddled at home as powerful explosions thundered through the strip.

"As we approach a potential agreement, it's extremely important for Hamas to deliver the message that we are not going there because we are weak", said Yossi Kuperwasser, a retired brigadier general and the former director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Police said they found the remnants in an open area on the outskirts of the city of Beersheba and that no one was hurt.

Israel responded by hitting the multi-storey building, first with small bombs apparently so that people would evacuate, then flattening it with a huge blast that shook the city and raised clouds of dust and smoke.

A Hamas militant was also killed in the strikes and at least 12 others injured, the Health Ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Security Cabinet was due to meet Thursday evening to discuss the situation in the south.

The rocket that hit an open area outside the major Israeli city of Beersheba caused no damage or injuries.

A top Hamas official told The Associated Press that the group waited for the delegation to leave Gaza before responding with rocket fire late Wednesday.

In a statement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for the global community to step in, blaming Israel for "the escalation on our people in the Gaza Strip".

As Israel continues to attack Gaza and strangle its economy with measures that have been denounced as "genocidal policies of collective punishment", the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) noted that "Palestinians in Gaza are on the brink of a full-blown humanitarian crisis due to Israel's 10-year siege".

Israel says it has no choice but to enforce its blockade to defend itself against Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction and has used Gaza as a base for missile attacks.

He added that "if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

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