No truce in sight as Israel and Palestine exchange fire
Five people killed as Israelis launch more than 30 aerial attacks in Gaza
A Palestinian boy carries copies of the Koran from a badly damaged mosque, which witnesses said was hit in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City today. Photograph: Reuters
Five Palestinians were killed today as Israel launched more than 30 aerial attacks in Gaza, where militants continue to fire rockets at Israel. The conflict has now entered a second month as the two parties continue to defy international efforts to negotiate an extended ceasefire.
The violence today seemed to delay any progress in talks brokered by Egypt aimed at securing another truce. Israel had no plans to send negotiators back to Cairo “as long as the shooting goes on”, an Israeli official said.
Medical officials in Gaza said two Palestinians were killed when their motorcycle was bombed and the bodies of three others were found beneath the rubble of one of three bombed mosques.
Another attack reduced a security complex belonging to Gaza’s dominant Hamas faction to a huge cloud of smoke, but there were no casualties. In other attacks, three houses were bombed, and fighter planes strafed open areas, medical officials said.
The Israeli military said that since midnight it had attacked more than 30 sites in the coastal enclave, without specifying the targets.
Gaza militants fired 15 rockets at towns in Israel’s south today setting off alarm sirens but causing no damage or injuries, a military spokeswoman said.
Since the end of a 72-hour truce yesterday, Gaza militants have fired more than 65 rockets at Israel, military officials said. Two Israelis were hurt by a mortar attack yesterday.
Israeli air strikes killed five Palestinians yesterday, among them a 10-year-old boy near a mosque in Gaza City.
Egypt, backed by American and European mediators, has made no visible progress toward resuming the ceasefire that had halted fighting for three days between Israel and Gaza militants that began on July 8th.
Egypt was expected to pursue its diplomacy today, meeting Palestinian officials in Cairo, but it wasn’t clear how much progress could be made if Israeli representatives didn’t show up.
Both sides remain apart on terms for renewing the ceasefire, with each blaming the other for refusing to extend it.
A diplomatic source familiar with the talks said it could take at least two days to see if it was possible to work out another truce. A sticking point was Israel’s demand for guarantees that any reconstruction supplies sent to Gaza would not be used by Hamas to construct more tunnels of the sort that Palestinian fighters have used to infiltrate Israel.
Egypt is mediating the talks but meeting separately with each party. Israel and Hamas deny each other’s legitimacy, with Hamas rejecting Israel’s right to exist and Israel rejecting Hamas as a terrorist organisation.