More than 20 people, including six children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of a new wave of violence between Israel and the Islamic Jihad group, Palestinian authorities said Saturday.
In an updated balance sheet, the Gaza Ministry of Health said that 24 people, including six minors, had been killed since Friday in Israeli attacks on Gaza and 203 were injured.
The Israeli authorities rejected this information, confirming that some Palestinian children died on Saturday night in Jabalia (north of Gaza) when the Islamic Jihad failed to launch a rocket towards Israel and not by its army.
“Israeli security forces have not attacked Jabalia in the past few hours,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said in a statement.
At a hospital in Jabalia, an AFP photographer saw the bodies of six people, including three children.
Israel alleges that its attacks, which were launched on Friday in a “preventive” manner against possible retaliation for the arrest of the leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, are aimed at the weapons manufacturing sites of that armed group.
The Israeli army said on Saturday that they are “preparing for a week-long operation.” “Currently there are no negotiations regarding a ceasefire,” said a military spokesman.
Taysir al Jabari ‘Abu Mahmud’, one of the main leaders of Islamic Jihad, and a total of 15 fighters were killed in the bombings on Friday, according to Israel.
The head of the organization in Gaza, Mohamed Al Hindi, declared that “the battle has only just begun.”
– Egypt’s efforts –
Egyptian sources told AFP that Cairo, a historic mediator between Israel and the armed groups in Gaza, wanted to establish mediation.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a speech that he was working “relentlessly” to restore calm.
But on the ground, the exchange of fire continued into the night from Saturday to Sunday, according to AFP journalists in Gaza.
These clashes are the worst between Israel and armed organizations in Gaza since the eleven-day war in May 2021. In that conflict, 260 people were killed on the Palestinian side and 14 in Israel, according to the authorities.
For the first time since the start of this new outbreak of violence, a warning sounded on Saturday evening in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
According to an Israeli official, about 400 projectiles (including rockets and mortar shells) were launched in the past 24 hours. Most were intercepted by the missile shield, the army said, and two people were slightly injured by shrapnel, according to emergency services.
The Palestinian group’s armed wing, the Al Quds Brigades, confirmed in a statement that they had fired a “heavy barrage of rockets” towards the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Sderot.
At Kibbutz Nahal Oz, an Israeli community along the Gaza border, resident Nadav Peretz said he has been “at or near the bomb shelter” since Friday.
“On the other hand, we also recognize that there is a civilian population that is not participating [en las hostilidades]and on both sides children deserve to enjoy their summer holidays,” said the 40-year-old.
– “We are alone” –
This new increase has removed the small enclave and its 2.3 million inhabitants from the only power plant, which had to be closed due to lack of fuel, due to the blockade of the entrances to the enclave by Israel from Tuesday.
Gaza’s health ministry said the next few hours will be “crucial and difficult,” warning that the lack of electricity risks stopping vital services for 72 hours.
The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Lynn Hastings, urged the warring parties to allow “fuel, food and medical supplies” to be sent to Gaza amid the worsening crisis.
Mohamed Abu Salameh, the director of Shifa, the main hospital in Gaza City, explained that doctors are facing “a severe shortage of medical supplies”.
Gaza resident Dounia Ismail says Palestinians are used to preparing a “survival bag” with items such as money and medicine.
“This latest rise brings images of fear, anxiety and the feeling that we are alone,” he told AFP.
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