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Israeli air attacks in Gaza continues; death toll 21

Monday March 12, 2012 03:13:58 PM, Agencies

Palestinians inspect a destroyed car after an Israeli airstrike in Tal Al Hawa, southern Gaza City, Gaza Strip, 09 March 2012. Two Palestinians were killed, one of them a member of the Gaza-based group the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), reports state.

(Photo: EPA/Mohammad Saber)

Gaza: Israeli air attacks in the Gaza Strip have killed three more people, bringing the number of dead to 21 since hostilities erupted in the Palestinian territory on Friday, according to Palestinian medical sources.

Medics reported six air raids in the early hours of Monday that injured 35 people, and another two raids around the city of Khan Younis, which left two dead and two others wounded.

The Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad said two of the dead were members of its military wing, the al-Quds Brigades.

Medics said that another strike on Monday killed a 15-year-old boy and injured six other students near a school in northern Gaza.

Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan, reporting from Gaza City on Monday, said there were rumours of a truce on Sunday night, "but that simply didn't come to pass and the air strikes are continuing."

He reported quoting Islamic Jihad sources that the Egyptians, "at the behest of Hamas" - the Palestinian faction that governs the Gaza Strip - were trying to establish an informal truce between Israel and Palestinian groups.

However, our correspondent said, "Islamic Jihad is very reluctant to abide by that at the moment.

"They are extremely unhappy that the Israelis are pursuing what they call an ‘assassination policy'.

"Islamic Jihad are reluctant to abide by any negotiated truce unless they can get a guarantee from Israel that those assasination attacks will stop, and frankly I don’t think that guarantee is going to come.”

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the latest raids, but earlier confirmed it carried out six strikes that "targeted a weapons storage facility and four rocket launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a rocket launching site in the southern Gaza Strip".

Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli police spokesman, said Palestinian fighters had fired 11 rockets into Israel overnight, including one that damaged a building in a kibbutz near the Gaza border.

There were no injuries.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, said on Sunday that the operations would "continue as long as necessary". 

Israel radio quoted him as saying during a tour of the country's south that he had "given orders to strike all those who plan on attacking us".

The Palestinians and Israelis have made rival calls for the UN Security Council to act as Israel hit back against rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip with deadly air strikes that left at least 18 people killed, according to medics in Gaza.

Tensions have mounted as the international Quartet on the Middle East - the US, Russia, EU and UN - holds its first top-level meeting in six months on Monday.

The deadlock in the Israel-Palestinian peace process will be discussed at the UN headquarters by the US secretary of state, Russia's foreign Minister and the UN secretary-seneral. Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign affairs chief, was expected to join the meeting via videoconference.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said the Security Council must "act with urgency to address this crisis" accusing Israel of staging an "escalation of deadly violence and terror".

He said women and children were among "dozens" of wounded and the dead also included a farmer killed while working in his field.

Mansour said that if Israel was not held accountable "this will only ensure the bolstering of its impunity and the further escalation of its crimes against the Palestinian people with far-reaching consequences for the future of our people and the prospects for peace and stability to ever be realised".

In return, Israel criticised the international community's "silence" over rocket attacks from Gaza, and said in a letter to the Security Council that it would take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians against the renewed barrage.




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