Israeli air strikes kill five Palestinians

 

Jerusalem

Israeli air strikes today killed five Palestinians, including a father and his daughter, as Gaza-based militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel’s south for a fourth consecutive day.

The tensions, which erupted on Friday after Israel killed a Palestinian militant leader, are among the most serious since the Jewish State’s military offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza over three years ago, and showed little sign of resolution as Islamist militants defied calls for an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

Yesterday’s deaths in Gaza brought the total Palestinian death toll since Friday to 23. A 65-year-old man and his daughter were among those killed and a teenage boy was killed in an explosion on his way to school. Israel denied responsibility for his death and some accounts suggested that he was killed when explosives he was carrying accidentally detonated. Two Islamic Jihad members were also killed.

Meanwhile, rockets injured an 80-year-old Israeli woman and a child in southern Israel. Another six Israelis have been wounded in the attacks, and schools in the south suspended classes for a second day.

The surging violence drew concerned appeals from Washington and the United Nations to both sides to exercise restraint, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that she condemned, “in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into Israel.” 

But hopes for calm appeared to be optimistic in the near future after Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, the two groups behind the rocket attacks, rejected calls for a ceasefire. The former demanded that Israel first stop the violence and end its policy of targeting militants.

“We warn the leaders of the enemy of the consequences of testing our patience. Our patience is limited and shall be turned into fire and destruction upon them,” a masked Islamic Jihad militant told a press conference in Gaza City.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned yesterday that Israel was “prepared to expand its activities as much as is necessary,” but did not elaborate. An Israeli spokesman said the military would not call off the strikes as long as rocket attacks continued, and warned that it would continue to strike at militants intent on carrying out attacks. 

The cross-border violence flared up on Friday when Israeli missiles took out the head of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair al-Qaisi, in what Israel admitted was a targeted assassination. Israel, which holds the militant group responsible for an attack from Egypt last August that killed eight Israeli civilians, said that his team was again planning a “major terrorist attack” from Egypt.

Observers do not expect a prolonged escalation, noting that Israel, which is focused on the Iranian nuclear threat, is unlikely to want to get bogged down in a repeat of the 2008-2009 Gaza War that killed up to 1,400 Palestinians. Hamas, which has not been involved in the latest rocket attacks, is also thought to want to avoid a serious escalation. 

It remains unclear, though, whether Hamas, which has appeared to toe a more moderate line against Israel in recent months, can rein in the increasingly powerful militant offshoots without appearing weak.

Writing in Israeli newspaper Haaretz, defence commentators Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff said that Hamas faced a dilemma: “Hamas is in difficult straits, not just ideologically - since making efforts to stop the rocket fire looks to most Gazans like capitulating to Israel - but also practically.

“Islamic Jihad, with the help of Iran, has expanded into a military organisation many-thousands strong. Enforcing its authority over it is not so easy for Hamas, especially since it does not want to look too eager to do Israel's bidding.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Sales Apprentice

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £20,000 - £60,000

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Team Leader

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence