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Israel, Gaza militants trade fire as death toll climbs to 24

Israeli airstrikes flattened properties in Gaza on Saturday and Palestinian rocket barrages into southern Israel persevered for a second day, elevating fears of one other main escalation within the Mideast battle. Gaza’s well being ministry mentioned 24 individuals had been killed up to now within the coastal strip, together with six youngsters.

The combating started with Israel’s killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group in a wave of strikes Friday that Israel mentioned have been meant to forestall an imminent assault.

So far, Hamas, the bigger militant group that guidelines Gaza, appeared to keep on the sidelines of the battle, holding its depth considerably contained. Israel and Hamas fought a warfare barely a yr in the past, one in all 4 main conflicts and a number of other smaller battles over the past 15 years that exacted a staggering toll on the impoverished territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.

(*24*) Hamas continues to keep out of the combat seemingly relies upon partially on how a lot punishment Israel inflicts in Gaza as rocket fire steadily continues.

The Israeli navy mentioned an errant rocket fired by Palestinian militants killed civilians late Saturday, together with youngsters, within the city of Jabaliya, in northern Gaza. The navy mentioned it investigated the incident and concluded “without a doubt” that it was attributable to a misfire on the a part of Islamic Jihad. There was no official Palestinian touch upon the incident.

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A Palestinian medical employee, who was not licensed to temporary media and spoke on situation of anonymity, mentioned the blast killed no less than six individuals, together with three youngsters.

An airstrike within the southern metropolis of Rafah destroyed a house and closely broken surrounding buildings. The Health Ministry mentioned no less than two individuals have been killed and 32 wounded, together with youngsters. A teenage boy was recovered from the rubble, and the opposite slain particular person was recognized by his household as Ziad al-Mudalal, the son of an Islamic Jihad official.

The navy mentioned it focused Khaled Mansour, Islamic Jihad’s commander for southern Gaza. Neither Israel nor the militant group mentioned whether or not he was hit. The Civil Defense mentioned responders have been nonetheless sifting by way of the rubble and {that a} digger was being despatched from Gaza City.

Another strike Saturday hit a automobile, killing a 75-year-old girl and wounding six different individuals.

In one of many strikes, fighter jets dropped two bombs on the home of an Islamic Jihad member after Israel warned individuals to evacuate the realm. The blast flattened the two-story construction, leaving a big rubble-filled crater, and badly broken surrounding properties.

Women and youngsters rushed out of the realm.

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“Warned us? They warned us with rockets and we fled without taking anything,” mentioned Huda Shamalakh, who lived subsequent door. She mentioned 15 individuals lived within the focused residence.

Among the 24 Palestinians killed have been six youngsters and two ladies, as properly as the senior Islamic Jihad commander. The Gaza Health Ministry mentioned greater than 200 individuals have been wounded. It doesn’t differentiate between civilians and fighters. The Israeli navy mentioned Friday that early estimates have been that round 15 fighters have been killed.

The lone energy plant in Gaza floor to a halt at midday Saturday for lack of gas as Israel has saved its crossing factors into Gaza closed since Tuesday. With the brand new disruption, Gazans can get solely 4 hours of electrical energy a day, growing their reliance on non-public mills and deepening the territory’s persistent energy disaster amid peak summer time warmth.

Throughout the day, Gaza militants frequently launched rounds of rockets into Israel. The Israeli navy mentioned Saturday night that just about 450 rockets had been fired, 350 of which made it into Israel, however nearly all have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. Two individuals suffered minor shrapnel wounds.

One rocket barrage was fired towards Tel Aviv, setting off sirens that despatched residents to shelters, however the rockets have been both intercepted or fell into the ocean, the navy mentioned.

Sunday may very well be a essential day within the flare-up, as Jews mark Tisha B’av, a somber day of fasting that commemorates the destruction of the biblical temples. Thousands are anticipated at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and Israeli media reported that the Israeli management was anticipated to permit lawmakers to go to a key hilltop holy website within the metropolis that may be a flashpoint for violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

The violence poses an early check for Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who assumed the function of caretaker prime minister forward of elections in November, when he hopes to preserve the place.

Lapid, a centrist former TV host and creator, has expertise in diplomacy having served as international minister within the outgoing authorities, however has skinny safety credentials. A battle with Gaza might burnish his standing and provides him a lift as he faces off in opposition to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a safety hawk who led the nation throughout three of its 4 wars with Hamas.

Hamas additionally faces a dilemma in deciding whether or not to be part of a brand new battle barely a yr after the final warfare precipitated widespread devastation. There has been nearly no reconstruction since then, and the remoted coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering round 50%. Israel and Egypt have maintained a good blockade over the territory for the reason that Hamas takeover in 2007.

Egypt on Saturday intensified efforts to forestall escalation, speaking with Israel, the Palestinians and the United States to preserve Hamas from becoming a member of the combating, an Egyptian intelligence official mentioned. The official spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to speak to the media.

The newest spherical of Israel-Gaza violence was rooted within the arrest earlier this week of a senior Islamic Jihad chief within the occupied West Bank, a part of a monthslong Israeli navy operation.

Israel then closed roads round Gaza and despatched reinforcements to the border, bracing for retaliation. On Friday, it killed Islamic Jihad’s commander for northern Gaza, Taiseer al-Jabari, in a strike on a Gaza City condo constructing.

An Israeli navy spokesman mentioned the strikes have been in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles.

Hamas seized energy in Gaza from rival Palestinian forces in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew from the coastal strip. Its most up-to-date warfare with Israel was in May 2021. Tensions soared once more earlier this yr following a wave of assaults inside Israel, near-daily navy operations within the West Bank and tensions at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy website.

Iran-backed Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas however largely shares its ideology. Both teams oppose Israel’s existence and have carried out scores of lethal assaults over time.

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