Sunday, November 18, 2012

Israel strike pushes Gaza death toll to 80 as truce talks intensify English

Palestinians gather around a destroyed house as members of the civil defence search for victims under the rubble after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Nov. 18. (Reuters)
Palestinians gather around a destroyed house as members of the civil defence search for victims under the rubble after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Nov. 18. (Reuters)

Three people were killed early Monday morning in new Israeli air strikes on Gaza, pushing the death toll in six days of violence to 80 Palestinians, health officials said.

“The toll of martyrs has risen to 80 with the deaths of Nisma Abu Zorr, 23, Mohammed Abu Zorr, 5, and Ahid al-Qatati 35, in an air strike on the Azzam home in east Gaza City,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.

The strike in the Zeitun neighborhood came after a night that saw Israeli war planes level a Gaza City police station as navy ships kept up sustained fire at the Gaza shore, AFP correspondents said.

The deaths came after multiple raids on Sunday that killed 31, in the bloodiest day of Israel’s bombing campaign, medics said.

The number of injuries rose over 700, officials said.

At least 10 children, five of them babies and toddlers, and six women were among those killed on Sunday, in attacks that came even as diplomatic efforts intensified to broker an end to the bloodshed which began on Wednesday.

The violence has also cost the lives of three Israelis and injured more than 50, according to medical sources.

By far the deadliest strike was in northern Gaza City where a missile levelled a three-storey building, killing nine members of the Al-Dallu family -- five of them children -- and two other people, medics said.

Qudra named the dead as policeman Mohammed al-Dallu, 35, Suheila al-Dallu, 50, Samah al-Dallu, 22, and five children: Jamal and Sara, whose ages were not immediately available, five-year-old Yussef, two-year-old Ranin, and 11-month-old Ibrahim.

The body of another woman from the same family was also pulled from the rubble but her identity was not immediately clear.

The other two victims, who lived next door, were named as Amina Mattar al-Muzzana, 83, and Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzzana, 22, Qudra said.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the strike, only saying the air force had hit “a few targets in northern Gaza City.”

Palestinians seek urgent Arab League summit

The Palestinian Authority has asked for an urgent Arab League summit to discuss Israeli attacks on Gaza, the League said on Sunday.

The authority is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular Fatah movement was driven out of Gaza five years ago by Islamist movement Hamas which now controls the Gaza Strip.

Abbas, who is based in the West Bank, has been accused by some Palestinians of not reacting energetically enough to the Israeli air strikes against Gaza.

On Saturday, Arab foreign ministers condemned the Israeli offensive on Gaza and expressed “complete discontent” at the U.N. Security Council’s failure to bring about a ceasefire.

The Arab League was discussing with its members the Palestinian request, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.

Seventy-two Palestinians, 21 of them children and several women have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s offensive began. Rockets fired from Gaza killed three civilians and wounded dozens.

The head of the Arab League and a group of Arab foreign ministers will visit Gaza on Tuesday to show solidarity with Palestinians

During an emergency meeting on Saturday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki asked the Arab League for an urgent summit and for “indefinite financial support” from Arab states.

Arab ministers backed Egyptian-led efforts to mediate a truce between Palestinians and Israelis which are yet to show results.

Israel’s declared goal is to deplete Gaza arsenals and force Hamas to stop rocket fire that has bedeviled Israeli border towns for years and is now displaying greater range, putting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the crosshairs.

The Israeli military said 544 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since Wednesday, killing three civilians and wounding dozens. Some 302 were intercepted and 99 failed to reach Israel and landed inside the Gaza Strip.

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