Toll mounts as Israeli strikes hit Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY / ANKARA
Palestinian women react during the funeral of 12-year-old boy who killed in an Israeli strike. AP PhotoIsraeli airstrikes killed a schoolboy and two other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip yesterday as Gaza rocket squads fired salvos into southern Israel, deepening the worst round of violence between the sides in more than a year.
A Gaza health official said a 12-year-old boy, a 60-year-old farm guard and a militant were killed in what the Israeli military said was its raid on rocket launchers that were targeting aircraft.Some 18 people have now been killed since March 9.
Egypt is trying to broker a truce between Israel and Gaza militants, Hamas said yesterday, warning that Israel would have to hold fire first for calm to return. “All the Palestinian factions have a positive position,” Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said. Egyptian officials, who have brokered numerous ceasefire agreements between two sides, were in constant contact in a bid to end the flare-up, he said. The violence has shattered a months-long lull and was touched off March 9 by an Israeli air assault that killed the commander of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) militant group, Zuhair al-Qaissi, an ally of Hamas rulers. Since then, Israeli airstrikes have killed 16 Gazan militants and two civilians, and fighters in the territory have fired more than 120 rockets at Israel.
Condemnation from Turkey
The PRC is best known for its role in the 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was freed in a prisoner swap last year. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has condemned “disproportionate attacks” by Israel that have caused civilian casualties in Gaza, adding that Ankara expected that the international community would not remain indifferent to attacks in the strip. Turkey also called on Israel to end inhumane policies toward Gaza, the ministry said.
Iran also called Israel’s deadly air strikes on Gaza “war crimes” against “the defenseless Palestinian people,” calling for an international outcry against the attacks.