x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Palestinian death toll rises as Israel strikes continue

Israel launched a military campaign against the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and medical services in the Palestinian enclave say that since then, Israeli air strikes have killed 40 Palestinians and injured about 400.

GAZA CITY // Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed 12 Palestinians yesterday, five of them militants, as nine Israelis were hurt by rocket fire, medics said.

Israel launched a military campaign against the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and medical services in the Palestinian enclave say that since then, Israeli air strikes have killed 42 Palestinians and injured about 400.

In the same period, three Israelis have been killed by rockets and another 18 injured, 10 of them soldiers, police and the army said.

Israeli warplanes hit the southern Gaza city of Rafah, killing Osama Qadi, 25, and injuring another two people, emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Selmiya said. Earlier attacks on Rafah killed five people, including a Hamas militant called Mukhlis Adwan.

An ambulance worker, Awad Nahal, and three others believed to be civilians also died. Another three people — all Hamas militants — were killed in a strike on Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, with security sources naming them as Ali Manameh, Hossam Abdel Jawad and Assaf Gharwish. Palestinian medics said another man, an Islamic Jihad militant wounded in a strike on Zeitun in Gaza City earlier in the day, died of his injuries. They named him as 24-year-old Mohammed Yassin.

The Israel Defense Forces said it had bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with about 200 air strikes yesterday.

For residents of Gaza City such as those in the Nasser neighbourhood, the Israeli assault is the stuff of nightmares.

"It's like a real-life horror movie, what I saw today," said 18-year-old Suha, standing in front of her house with her mother. "It's a miracle we're still alive."

Laila Saker, 29, is eight-and-half months pregnant and the mother of six-year-old Razan and four-year-old Uday. "My daughter Razan hasn't spoken for the last two days. She rarely makes a sound. My son, Uday, has become aggressive. I've been trying to relax them ... but I feel like it isn't working," she said. "I'm afraid for my unborn baby and my children. I want to cry during the bombing but I'm holding myself together for the children because I don't want them to be afraid."

Meanwhile in Israel, nine people were injured by rocket fire yesterday. Four were soldiers who sustained light injuries in Reim about eight kilometres from central Gaza, the army said. During the afternoon, another five Israelis were lightly injured in Ashdod.