Israel carries out more than 50 air strikes in Gaza

At least three die, including boy (14), with total killed in renewed fighting now 15

Fire is seen after an explosion in what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza city yesterday. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Fire is seen after an explosion in what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza city yesterday. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters


With cross-border violence continuing yesterday, ahead of the Cairo truce breakthrough, there was mounting criticism from Israeli residents close to the Gaza border that the government had failed to deliver on its promise to ensure long- term quiet to the area.

Israel carried out more than 50 air strikes yesterday across the Gaza Strip, killing at least three people, including a boy of 14 and a woman, medics said, in a third day of renewed fighting. Israel said 11 of the attacks targeted militants firing rockets or going to launch sites.

According to Ashraf al- Qodra, spokesman for the emergency services in Gaza, 15 Palestinians have been killed since the resumption of fighting on Friday morning.

Militants fired more than 40 projectiles at Israel yesterday.

However, both sides appeared to be making sure not to escalate, in what seemed to be an attempt to give a chance for the contacts in Cairo aimed at clinching another ceasefire.

The Israeli strikes were not as intense as during the 30 days of fighting that preceded the first 72-hour truce, and the smaller Palestinian groups, not Hamas, claimed responsibility for the militant fire over the past three days, which was limited to areas close to Gaza.

Although most of the residents of kibbutzim and towns close to the border who left during the month of fighting have now returned, two kibbutzim, Nahal Oz and Ein Hashlosha, advised members it was still not safe to come home. Residents expressed the fear that a protracted war of attrition would make life unbearable.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty along with frustration. We are unable to live a routine life and we refuse to go back to the reality that we lived in for 14 years,” said Nahal Oz resident Yanina Barnea.

Rachel Tavivi from the Sha’ar Hanegev area, close to Gaza, said residents felt betrayed: “They promised us to move mountains and begged us to come home. Many families were convinced and came back with their kids – straight back to rockets and mortars.”

Israel yesterday closed the Kerem Shalom crossing, used to transfer humanitarian aid to Gaza, after rockets landed at the site.

Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated to his cabinet that Israel would not negotiate under fire: “At no stage did we declare the operation was over,” he said.

“It will continue until its objective – the restoration of quiet over a protracted period – is achieved.”

Public security minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch warned that if rocket fire persisted Israel would have no choice but to order another ground invasion.

“As soon as the door shuts, and it is clear that negotiations will not yield any results, and rocket fire continues – we will probably have no choice but to go in to Gaza and then we will need to overpower Hamas.”

The Gaza war erupted on July 8th, when Israel launched air strikes in response to militant rocket fire, sending in ground troops nine days later.