Israeli PM: military campaign in Gaza may be ‘extended operation’

19 die in latest raids but air strike fails to kill Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that Israel's military campaign in Gaza may be an extended operation and he accused the territory's Hamas rulers of using "savagery" against civilians just like Islamic State militants in Iraq.

At a news conference in Tel Aviv, the Israeli premier said the Gaza war launched on July 8th “will be a continued campaign“ aimed at restoring “calm and safety“ to Israeli citizens.

Mr Netanyahu said, however, that he saw a "new diplomatic horizon" ahead for Israel in the region, alluding to possible diplomacy with Palestinians ahead once the war was over.

Separately, Hamas's military wing said today that an Israeli air strike in Gaza had failed to kill its military commander, Mohammed Deif. In a televised statement, a masked spokesman for the Izz-el-Din al-Qassam Brigade said


Mr Deif’s wife and seven-month-old son were killed in the attack. “The leaders of the enemy were behind their offices looking at the screens and their intelligence and apparatuses made them believe that the moment of celebration was imminent,” the Hamas spokesman said. “You have failed and you have missed.”

Hamas and medical officials said 19 people died in the latest Israeli raids, including Mr Deif’s wife and seven-month-old son.

Israeli aircraft have carried out 80 strikes in Gaza since Tuesday, “targeting terror sites”, the military said.

Hamas militants in gaza have fired rockets at Israel for a second day after fighting resumed with the collapse of truce talks and an Israeli air strike that killed three people in Gaza.

Palestinians launched more than 130 rockets, mainly at southern Israel, with some intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, the military said. No casualties were reported on the Israeli side.

Egypt, which has been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire in indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks, said it would continue contacts with both sides, whose delegates left Cairo after hostilities resumed on Tuesday.

But there appeared to be no end in sight to violence that shattered a 10-day period of calm, the longest break from fighting since Israel launched its Gaza offensive with the declared aim of ending rocket fire into its territory.

Claiming that Israel had “opened a gateway to hell”, Hamas’s armed wing vowed to target Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport with rocket fire, possibly to retaliate for what Hamas was quoted by Israeli media as saying was an Israeli attempt to assassinate its top militant leader, Mohammed Deif, in a Gaza City strike.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement condemning the breach of the ceasefire, adding he was "gravely disappointed by the return to hostilities" and urging the sides not to allow matters to escalate.

Egyptian mediators have been struggling to end the five-week-old Gaza conflict and seal a deal that would open the way for reconstruction aid to flow into the territory of 1.8 million people, where thousands of homes have been destroyed.

The Palestinians want Egypt and Israel to lift their blockades of the economically crippled Gaza Strip that predated the Israeli offensive.

Israel, like Egypt, views Hamas as a security threat and wants guarantees that any removal of border restrictions will not result in militant groups obtaining weapons.