First fighter, several children killed as Israel bombs Gaza | Israelo-Palestinian conflict

A senior commander of a Palestinian armed group and several children were killed in the Gaza Strip when Israeli planes bombarded the besieged enclave for a second day.

In a statement on Sunday, Islamic Jihad confirmed that Khaled Mansour, its commander in the southern Gaza Strip, was killed in an Israeli raid on Saturday.

Mansour is the second senior member of Islamic Jihad to be killed since Israel began attacking Gaza on Friday, when he murdered the group’s commander in the north, Taysir al-Jabari.

Israel has warned that its campaign against Islamic Jihad could last a week, and its attacks on Gaza have destroyed apartment buildings and hit refugee camps.

At least four children were killed in an explosion near the Jabaliya refugee camp on Saturday, according to Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip. He blamed Israel for the deaths, but the military denied responsibility, saying the blast was caused by a failed rocket launched by Islamic Jihad.

Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the claims.

The latest deaths bring the number of children killed since Friday to six and the total death toll among Palestinians to 24. At least 204 others were also injured, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Palestinian fighters responded to the shelling by launching more than 400 rockets into Israel. Most of the rockets were intercepted and no serious casualties were reported, according to the Israeli ambulance service.

The violence has raised fears of a new war on Gaza by Israel, just 15 months later a month-long conflict which killed more than 260 people.

“The last war caused widespread devastation here in the Gaza Strip. A year later, there has been almost no reconstruction,” said Youmna ElSayed of Al Jazeera, reporting from Gaza City. “This isolated coastal territory is impoverished, its inhabitants struggling to recover. And many fear a further escalation.

“Intensive mediation”

Around 2.3 million Palestinians are crammed into Gaza’s narrow coastal strip, with Israel and Egypt severely restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposing a naval blockade , citing security concerns.

Israel halted the planned transport of fuel to Gaza shortly before launching its attacks on Friday, crippling the territory’s only power plant and reducing electricity to around four hours a day and drawing warnings from health officials that hospitals would be seriously affected within a few days.

“[The Israelis] attack civilians, they attack premises, residential areas. Nobody knows what will happen in the next few hours,” said Dr. Medhat Abbas, director at Gaza’s health ministry.

“This is a call to reach out to the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip at this time. There is a shortage of electricity. It has now been declared that it will only be four hours a day. This means that we will depend in hospitals on generators. The generators consume half a million liters every month. We don’t have that fuel right now.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Cairo was talking “around the clock” with both sides to quell the violence.

An Egyptian intelligence delegation led by Major General Ahmed Abdelkhaliq arrived in Israel on Saturday and will travel to Gaza for mediation talks, two Egyptian security sources told Reuters news agency. They hoped to secure a one-day ceasefire in order to complete the talks, the sources added.

“Intensive efforts have been made this evening and the movement has listened to the mediators, but these efforts have not yet resulted in an agreement,” an Islamic Jihad official told Reuters on Saturday evening.

The latest round of tension began earlier this week after Israeli forces arrested Bassam al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad commander in the occupied West Bank. Al-Saadi was arrested during an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin, during which a teenager was killed. Israeli forces then cordoned off roads around the Gaza Strip and shelled an apartment building in central Gaza City on Friday, killing Islamic Jihad’s northern commander al-Jabari and at least nine others. , including a five-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman.

The Israeli army also said it arrested 19 other Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank on Saturday.

Islamic Jihad is aligned with the ruling Hamas, but often acts independently.

A further escalation in violence could hinge on Hamas deciding to join the fight alongside Islamic Jihad.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, which triggered the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and take full responsibility.”

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority also condemned the Israeli attacks.

The violence is a first test for Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who assumed the role of interim leader in front of elections in November, when he hopes to retain the top job.

Lapid, a centrist former TV host and author, has a diplomatic background having served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, but has weak security credentials. A conflict with Gaza could improve his position and give him a boost as he takes on former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a security hawk who led the country in three of his four wars with Hamas.

The United States said Saturday it fully supports Israel’s right to self-defense and urged all parties to avoid further escalation, while Iran, which supports Islamic Jihad, said Israel “to pay a heavy price” for the latest attacks.

United Nations and European Union envoys to the Middle East have also expressed concern over the violence.

Leave a Comment