Israel pounds Gaza for a second day in most violent assault in months as UN envoy heads to Cairo for mediation talks. an hour ago
Israeli forces have killed a top Islamic Jihad commander in an air raid on his home in Gaza City, unleashing a new spiral of violence.
Shortly after the attack on Tuesday morning that killed Bahaa Abu al-Ata and his wife, salvos of rockets were launched from Palestinian groups in the besieged Gaza Strip into Israel.
In response to the rocket barrage, dozens of air raids were launched on Gaza. Overall, 24 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, according to health officials.
Separately, Syrian state media said a separate missile attack on Tuesday hit the home of Islamic Jihad official Akram al-Ajouri in Damascus, killing two people including one of his sons. Syria said Israel carried out the Damascus attack. Israel did not comment.
Here are the latest updates:
Israel’s new defence minister said the country will not hesitate to target more members of the Islamic Jihad group.
“Over the past 24 hours the Jihad Islamic terrorists shot over 250 rockets and missiles on Israelis,” Naftali Bennett said.
“Israeli security forces will hunt down every terrorist, until our children are secure and safe,” he added.
Officials in Gaza said more than 50 air raids and 21 artillery attacks targeted Palestinian homes, agricultural lands, poultry and vegetable farms, as well as positions belonging to the “resistance”, Maan News Agency reported.
The enclave’s information ministry put the total number of housing units damaged at 48 – some of which were “totally destroyed”.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, said two Palestinians have been killed in an air raid that targeted Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
One Palestinian has been injured, he added.
People carry the body of a 38-year-old Khalid Faraj, who was killed in an Israeli air raid, during his funeral procession in Deir al Balah [Hassan Jedi /Anadolu]
Egyptian officials said Nickolay Mladenoy, a United Nations Middle East envoy, arrived in Cairo to lead de-escalation efforts.
The officials cited by news agencies said Mladenoy landed from Tel Aviv and was scheduled to meet Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, said at least 22 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air raids since the start of the latest escalation on Tuesday morning.
At least 69 others were wounded, he added.
A Palestinian man, stained with the blood of his relative, is comforted as he reacts at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
A spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said the “Israeli escalation” must immediately stop, Wafa news agency reported.
Abbas is exerting efforts to stop the escalation, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement.
He called on the international community to immediately intervene to pressure Israel to stop its “continued aggression”, and to respect international law, Wafa added.
Palestinian women sit on debris after Israeli airstrikes hit their homes in Khan Yunis, Gaza [Ali Jadallah /Anadolu]
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to keep bombarding Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza as long as rocket fire continued.
“They have one choice: to stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows. Their choice,” Netanyahu said in remarks made during a cabinet meeting.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, confirmed to Al Jazeera that at least 18 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air raids since the start of the latest escalation on Tuesday morning.
At least 50 others were wounded, he added, with injuries ranging from minor to moderate.
Palestinian youths look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip [Said Khatib/AFP]
Al-Qidra said three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air raid that targeted central Gaza.
Israeli fighter jets bombarded a wood-working shop in al-Tuffah neighbourhood, killing the three Palestinians and wounding more than 20 others, Maan News Agency reported.
Al-Qidra said two more Palestinians were killed in an air raid.
The Islamic Jihad group said one of the two killed was a member of its group, identifying him as 38-year-old Khaled Faraj.
Palestinians gather around the remains of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]
The deaths bring the overall toll in Gaza to at least 12 Palestinians, including Abu al-Ata and his wife.
Palestinian factions launched rocket fire towards towards southern Israel.
It appeared that Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, was opting out of the fighting for now.
A diplomatic source told Reuters News Agency the United Nations Middle East envoy was on his way to Egypt’s Cairo to begin mediation efforts.
|Israel-Gaza clashes escalate after Islamic Jihad commander killed|
Universities in the Gaza Strip have suspended classes until further notice, Maan News Agency reported.
The Ministry of Education has also announced the suspension of classes in schools run by the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees across the enclave.
Israel has resumed bombardment of the Gaza Strip, according to local media reports.
Israeli fighter jets targetted various areas of the coastal enclave, including the city’s centre, as well as agricultural lands in the eastern part of the Strip, Maan News Agency said.
Israeli shelling of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip has killed at least three more Palestinians, bringing the death toll for the day to 10, according to the enclave’s health ministry.
More than 40 others were also wounded in the Palestinian enclave since the morning, the ministry reported.
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced a special state of emergency for 48 hours in areas within an 80 kilometers (650 miles) range surrounding Gaza.
The Israeli army carried out at least 30 air raids and artillery attacks on several areas of the Gaza Strip, according to the government’s media office.
“More than 20 Israeli air strikes and 10 artillery shelling have been marked in different parts of the enclave since early Tuesday,” it said in a statement.
Targets included agricultural lands, residential buildings and a number of sites of Palestinian factions.
Full moon rises at the evening hours over Gaza City [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu]
Two more Palestinians were killed in an Israeli attack in the northern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry said, after Israel said it targeted fighters preparing to fire rockets.
The deaths brought the Palestinian death toll for the day to seven, including Abu al-Ata and his wife, killed in a targeted Israeli air raid.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 45 others were also wounded in Israel’s military escalation.
Meanwhile, Israeli medics said they had treated 46 people, 21 of whom had “stress symptoms” related to rocket fire.
Relatives mourn over the dead body of 20-year-old youth Mohammed Atiyyah Hammouda, who was killed in an Israeli air raid, at the morgue of Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City [Ramez Habboub/Anadolu]
Jordan’s foreign ministry condemned an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip that killed top Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata
Daifallah al-Fayez, a spokesman for the Jordanian foreign ministry, blamed Israel for the ensuing escalation of violence in a statement.
Germany condemned the bombardment of cities in Israel by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, calling for de-escalation and saying there could be no justification for violence against innocent civilians.
“We condemn this rocket fire in the severest terms,” the German foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We call for restraint and for an end to the violence. We strongly support Egypt’s and the United Nations’ mediation efforts.”
People carry the dead body of 25-year-old Palestinian Zaki Mohammed Adnan Ghanama, who was killed in an Israeli air attack at the morgue of Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City [Ramez Habboub/Anadolu]
Egyptian officials said Cairo is attempting to de-escalate tensions in the Gaza Strip amid the worst bout of fighting there in recent months.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media, said Egypt’s general intelligence agency has stepped up communications and has “opened channels” with the US and the European Union.
Egypt often acts as a mediator between Israel and Palestinian factions, and brokered a ceasefire deal in May.
Yonah Jeremy Bob, an intelligence, terrorism and legal analyst for The Jerusalem Post, said neither Israel nor the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad “will actually want a full-scale war at this point”.
“If both sides operate according to some unwritten rule about not striking beyond a certain amount, probably after a few days things will settle down as has happened a few times over the last year,” he told Al Jazeera via Skype from Modiin in central Israel.
A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli attack has died from his injuries, the Gaza Health Ministry said.
The health ministry in the Palestinian enclave identified the latest man killed as Ibrahim Al-Dabous, 26. It said he was hit in an attack on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
The latest casualty brought the toll to at least five people killed, including Abu al-Ata and his wife, with another 30 wounded since the morning, according to the Gazan health ministry.
Meanwhile, Israeli medics said they had treated 39 people.
|Israeli forces kill top Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza air raid|
The areas around the fringe of the border between Israel and Gaza are under a tight security lockdown, Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reported.
“We are unable to go any further than about five kilometres or so away from the border because of a police road closure,” Hawcett said, reporting from the Gaza border.
“The rocket fire still continues and so does the Israeli response. We heard and saw a rocket coming out from Gaza territory behind us heading north. It was intercepted by the Iron Dome in the skies overhead.
“We also heard Israeli warplanes overhead, so it seems another round of air attacks could well be under way over Gaza and inside Gaza.”
Israeli security forces block a road after tension started to rise following the air attack of Israeli army, killing Bahaa Abu al-Atta [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu]
The Israeli military said it has carried out a number of air attacks in Gaza, bombing a series of Islamic Jihad targets.
It said the raids hit a training camp and underground weapons manufacturing and storage sites.
Islamic Jihad continues to fire rockets at Israeli homes. Our tanks just targeted Islamic Jihad terror targets in #Gaza.
Terror targets civilians.
We target terror. — Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 12, 2019
A Palestinian man has been killed in a new Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip, the Gaza Health Ministry has said.
Zaki Mohammed Adnan Ghanameh, 25, was killed in an Israeli attack in Beit Lahia on Tuesday afternoon, according to ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra.
Three other Palestinians have been wounded, the ministry said.
|Islamic Jihad commander among four killed in Israeli air raids|
Arab members of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of escalating the situation in the Gaza Strip for his political survival.
“The man who lost consecutive elections will leave the ground burned in a desperate attempt to stay in his position,” MK Ayman Odeh said on Twitter.
“For a decade, he [Netanyahu] worked every morning to prolong the occupation and undermine prospects for peace and this is what he did today as well.”
MK Walid Taha warned Netanyahu’s policy of escalation would drag the region into a “real disaster”.
“What is happening threatens the security of the entire region and the lives of millions of innocent people in Gaza Strip,” he said.”Israel is in danger as a result of Netanyahu’s aggressive policies.”
Palestinians inspect a damaged building in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
Speaking to reporters at military headquarters, Prime Minister Netanyahu said fighting with Palestinian groups could prove protracted.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Chief of Staff of the Israeli army Aviv Kochavi (L) hold a press conference [Abir Sultan/EPA]
“Israel is not interested in escalation, but we will do everything required to protect ourselves,” said Netanyahu, who heads a caretaker government following two inconclusive elections.
“This could take time. What is needed is stamina and cool-headedness,” added Netanyahu, who accused Abu al-Ata of “plotting additional attacks”, without elaborating.
Mulhaimar Abu Sadaa, a professor at Al Azhar University in Gaza, says the besieged city might witness “further escalation” after Abu al-Ata’s killing by Israeli forces, which prompted retaliatory rocket fire.
“We are going to witness further escalation in the coming hours and days, but it all depends on the behaviour of Hamas,” he told Al Jazeera, referring to the group administering the besieged enclave.
“If Hamas is going to join the Islamic Jihad we are going to approach further escalation with Israel, but if Hamas is able to contain the Islamic Jihad with the help of the Egyptians the situation might be contained or brought under control within two-three days.”
The European Union called for a “rapid and complete de-escalation”.
“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” the bloc’s diplomatic service said in a statement.
“A rapid and complete de-escalation is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”
Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry, told Al Jazeera that one Palestinian has been killed in an Israeli air raid that targeted the northern Gaza Strip.
Mohammed Attiyah Musleh Hammouda, 20, was killed in the attack, and 12 others were wounded, according to al-Qidra.
Men walk past a damaged building in al-Mazzeh, Damascus [Omar Sanadiki/Reuters]
“[Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu will pay a hefty price for the assassination of Abu al-Ata … His troops and settlers will pay a hefty price for these crimes,” Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, told crowds in Gaza.
“Today, we tell our people, the only option available is to face [this aggression],” he said in televised remarks.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the Israeli attacks and the assassination of Abu al-Ata is a “continuation of Israeli aggression towards the Palestinian people”.
“Our people are being targeted all over, inside and outside Palestine,” he told Al Jazeera Arabic from Gaza.
“The attack reflects Israel’s unsuccessful tactics … Assassinations cannot and will not put an end to resistance, and are not enough to stop Palestinians from supporting the cause,” Qassem said.
“After every attack, the will of the resistance grows and becomes more persistent,” he added.
Hamas is coordinating with all of the Palestinian factions in Gaza to respond to the “occupation’s crimes”, Qassem said.
“We call on the international community to intervene immediately to stop Israeli aggression,” Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Al Jazeera Arabic from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
“The president is in contact with the relevant parties to ensure the safety of our people in the Gaza Strip.”
Israel’s Iron Dome System intercepted missiles, which were fired from the Gaza Strip in response Abu al-Ata’s killing
The rockets, according to Israeli local media, were intercepted over the southern city of Ashdod.
WATCH: Israel’s Iron Dome in action as it intercepts rockets above central Israel.
Approx. 20 out of the 50 rockets fired by Islamic Jihad from #Gaza at Israeli civilians have been intercepted. pic.twitter.com/qy8uBMc4dL — Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) November 12, 2019
Al Jazeera Arabic’s Wael al-Dahdouh, reporting from Gaza, said there is a “high degree of anger” in the city.
“The overnight operation reminded people in Gaza of previous assassinations that targeted Palestinian activists and high-level commanders from Palestinian resistance groups in their homes,” he said.
“Anger is also among the various Palestinians groups in Gaza … because an attack on the Islamic Jihad means potential attacks on other groups as well.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu and his chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi, are set to deliver statements to media at 08:30 GMT.
Syrian state media said the Israeli attack in Damascus had been carried out using several missiles, one of which was shot down over the nearby suburb of Daraya.
At the scene of the attack, a Reuters news agency witness said the top floor of a two-storey building had been completely scorched.
Syrian state media said two were killed, including the son al-Ajouri, and six people were wounded in the attack on the home in al-Mazzeh, a western district of the capital where several foreign embassies are located.
Rockets struck the south of Israel and warning sirens wailed in Tel Aviv, although there were no immediate reports of hits on the seaside city.
An ‘Iron Dome’ missile system intercepting rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, near the city of Ashdod [Atef Safadi/EPA]
“We are preparing for a number of days of fighting,” Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.
The army ordered “non-essential” workers in Tel Aviv and central Israel to stay at home and schools and universities to close while banning public gatherings.
Dozens of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel in the past hour, including long-range rockets into Tel Aviv. Hundreds of thousands in bomb shelters. Most rockets intercepted by Iron Dome Missile Defense. Minor injuries reported. pic.twitter.com/Ma0ttd95mY
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 12, 2019
Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata during his funeral in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
Islamic Jihad said Abu al-Ata’s wife, Asmaa, was also killed in the Israeli raid that ripped through the building in Gaza City’s Shejaiya district before dawn.
The children of the couple, Saleem, Mohammad, Liyan and Fatima as well as their neighbour Hanan Hillis, were moved to Shifa Hospital, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.
In a statement, Islamic Jihad said: “Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” it said, referring to Israel, adding that it was on “maximum alert.”
People gathered near the home of Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata after it was hit by an Israeli attack that killed him in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies