GAZA CITY: Israel pounded Gaza on Saturday with scores of air strikes, killing 10 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and bringing down a 12-storey apartment building as Egypt called for new truce talks.
Since a round of frantic Egyptian diplomacy collapsed last Tuesday, shattering nine days of calm, 86 Palestinians and an Israeli boy have been killed in the violence.
Israel sent text messages, voice mails and leaflets warning Palestinians that “every house from which militant activity is carried out, will be targeted” and to stay away from “terrorists”.
One Israeli child and 480 Palestinian children have been killed in the conflict, says Unicef
Israel has vowed no let-up until it can guarantee the safety of its civilians, while Hamas insists that Israel must end its eight-year blockade of the territory as part of any truce.
At least 2,103 Palestinians and 68 people on the Israeli side have been killed since July 8. The UN says 70 per cent of the Palestinians who have died were civilians.
Israel said it had carried out 55 air strikes over Gaza on Saturday and that around 64 rockets and mortar rounds from Gaza hit Israel, with another 14 intercepted, including one over Tel Aviv.
The deadliest Israeli air strike levelled a home in Al-Zawayda in central Gaza, killing a couple, their sons aged three and four, and a 45-year-old aunt, medics said.
Neighbours said the family house had been bombed earlier in the conflict and that the family had returned to camp out in the ruins, when it was hit overnight by an F16.
An Israeli air strike levelled an apartment building in the heart of Gaza City on Saturday night, wounding at least 18 people, 10 of them children, emergency services said.
Residents in the building were called 10 minutes before the attack and told to evacuate, after which at least two missiles slammed into the complex, levelling it completely, witnesses said.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said a Hamas military operations room had been located in the building.
Another air strike later destroyed a car in Gaza City, killing one person and wounding 11 others, medics said.
Witnesses and Palestinian officials said two mosques were destroyed in the Khan Yunis area of southern Gaza, while a third, in the Shati refugee camp which had already been damaged, was bombed again.
The intensified air strikes came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed harsh retribution for the killing of a four-year-old boy at his home in kibbutz Nahal Oz on Friday.
One Israeli child and at least 480 Palestinian children have been killed since the conflict began, Unicef said, in the deadliest fighting since the 2005 end of the second intifada.
Meanwhile, Israel was yet to respond to Egypt’s call for new talks, while Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that “any proposal offered to the movement will be discussed”.
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said that “what interests us now is putting a stop to the bloodshed”.
“As soon as a ceasefire goes into effect, the two sides can sit down and discuss their demands,” he said after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Mr Abbas’s meeting with Mr Sisi came after he held two rounds of talks in Qatar on Thursday and Friday with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, whose Islamist movement is the de facto ruler of Gaza.
A Hamas official said on Saturday the movement had signed a proposal for the Palestinians to apply to join the International Criminal Court at which legal action could be taken against Israel.
Since the July 8 outbreak of the conflict in and around Gaza, Israel and Hamas have accused each other of committing war crimes. Joining the ICC would also expose Palestinian factions to possible prosecution.
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2014