Pakistan has strongly condemned airstrikes by Israel on Gaza that resulted in injuries and deaths of Palestinians, including a five-year-old girl, according to a statement by the Foreign Office (FO) on Saturday.
Israel pounded Gaza with air strikes on Friday, killing more than 15 people. Flames poured out of a building in Gaza City following the first round of strikes, while wounded Palestinians were evacuated by medics. Gaza’s health ministry reported that a “five-year-old girl, targeted by the Israeli occupation” was among nine people killed. A further 55 Palestinians were wounded, the ministry said.
Five-year-old Alaa Kaddum had a pink bow in her hair and a wound on her forehead, as her body was carried by her father at her funeral.
Censuring the attacks, the FO said the latest spate of aggression was “typical of the Israeli atrocities, illegal actions and indiscriminate use of force against innocent Palestinians over the decades in complete defiance of international human rights and humanitarian laws”.
The FO called upon the international community to urge Israel to put an immediate end to the “blatant use of force and flagrant violations of human rights”, adding that it was “imperative” to immediately stop the aggression.
“We renew our call for a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State, with pre-1967 borders, and Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital being the only just, comprehensive and lasting solution of the Palestinian question, in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) resolutions.”
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called Kaddum’s martyrdom an act of “Israeli terrorism”.
“If impunity & barbarism had a face, it would have been that of Israel, which has targeted Palestinians without any care for consequences,” he tweeted.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan also condemned the attacks and called on world powers to act against Israel.
Israeli attacks rage on for second day
Israel struck in Gaza after an operation against the Islamic Jihad group ended more than a year of relative calm along the border.
Israel said it struck Islamic Jihad fighters preparing to launch rockets and militant posts. Additional bombings targeted five houses, witnesses said, sending huge clouds of smoke and debris into the air as explosions rocked Gaza City.
Islamic Jihad said it had targeted Israel’s main international gateway, Ben Gurion Airport, but the rocket fell short near Modiin, around 20 kilometres away, and the Civil Aviation Authority said the airport was operating as usual with flight routes adjusted.
Egyptian, UN and Qatari efforts to end the fighting were underway. Further escalation would largely depend on whether Hamas, the group which controls Gaza, would opt to join the fighting.
The Israeli strikes have killed 14 Palestinians, including at least four more Islamic Jihad members and a child, and have wounded at least 110 people, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Islamic Jihad did not provide precise details on how many of its members had been killed and signalled no immediate ceasefire. “The time now is for resistance, not a truce,” a group official told Reuters.
Overnight, the Israeli military said it had apprehended 19 Islamic Jihad members in raids in the Israeli-occupied West Bank while targeting the group’s rocket manufacturing sites and launchers in Gaza.
UN envoy concerned
Around 2.3 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal Gaza Strip, with Israel and Egypt tightly restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposing a naval blockade, citing security concerns.
Israel stopped the planned transport of fuel into Gaza shortly before it struck on Friday, crippling the territory’s lone power plant and reducing electricity to around eight hours per day and drawing warnings from health officials that hospitals would be severely impacted within days.
The frontier had been largely quiet since May 2021, when 11 days of fierce attacks by Israel left at least 250 in Gaza dead.
The UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland said he was deeply concerned about the violence and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority condemned Israel’s attacks.
Gaza streets were largely deserted on Saturday afternoon. At the site where top Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer al-Jaabari was killed, rubble, glass and furniture were strewn along the street.
A neighbour, Mariam Abu Ghanima, 56, said the Israeli military did not issue a warning before the attack as it has done in previous rounds of violence.
A spokesperson for the military said the force had made efforts to avoid civilian casualties in the surprise attack, which had used precision means to target a specific floor of the building.
Israel has imposed special security measures in its southern territories near Gaza and is preparing to call up some 25,000 military personnel, according to Army Radio and the streets in towns near the border were empty.
Tensions rose this week after Israeli forces arrested an Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank, drawing threats of retaliation from the group.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Friday’s strikes thwarted an immediate and concrete attack by Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran and designated as a terrorist organisation by the West.
Some Israeli political analysts said the military operation provided Lapid with an opportunity to bolster his security credentials ahead of a November 1 election.