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Israel-Gaza conflict continues amid airstrikes, rising death toll


Israel-Gaza conflict continues amid airstrikes, rising death toll

There seems to be no end in sight yet to the worst escalation in years as Israel pummelled Gaza with airstrikes and Palestinian militants launched rocket barrages at Israel on Saturday.

The carnage has entered its sixth day.

U.S. and Arab diplomats have sought to calm the situation after a night of violence that saw militants fire about 200 rockets at cities in Israel, whose planes struck what it said were targets used by Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza.

At least 136 people have been killed in Gaza since hostilities erupted on Monday, including 34 children and 21 women, with 950 others wounded, Palestinian medics said.

Israel has reported eight dead, including a soldier on the Gaza border and six civilians, two of them children.

Overnight, the Israeli bombardment killed at least 12 Palestinians in Gaza, medics said, including a woman and four of her children who died when their house in a refugee camp was hit.

Three others died, with others wounded, the medics said.

In Israel, thousands of Israelis ran for shelter as sirens sounded. One rocket launched from Gaza struck a residential building in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, police said.

Media said some people were hurt in the town dashing to cover.

In Gaza, Akram Farouq, 36, dashed out of his home with his family after a neighbour told him they had received a call from an Israeli officer warning that their building would be hit.

“We haven’t slept all night because of the explosions, and now I am out in the street with my wife and children, who are weeping and trembling,” said the 36-year-old.

Israel’s military said its aircraft struck rocket launch sites and apartments that belonged to Hamas militants. It said one target had fired a rocket barrage at Jerusalem on Monday.

Hamas launched Monday’s rocket assault after tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Regional and international diplomatic efforts have yet to show any signs of halting hostilities. Egypt, which has been leading regional efforts, sent ambulances across its border with Gaza to bring Palestinian casualties to Egyptian hospitals.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s envoy Hady Amr, deputy assistant secretary for Israel and Palestinian affairs, flew into Israel on Friday, before Sunday’s U.N. Security Council’s meeting. Washington says he aims “to reinforce the need to work toward a sustainable calm.”