Israeli jets pound Gaza in second day of assaults

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Israeli jets have pounded the besieged Gaza Strip for a second day following a wave of air strikes on the coastal enclave that killed at the very least 12 individuals, together with a five-year-old woman and a commander of a Palestinian armed group.

The combating, which started on Friday with Israel’s focused killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, continued all through the evening, drawing the perimeters nearer to an all-out battle.

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Shortly earlier than midday on Saturday, Israel stepped up air strikes on Gaza, flattening a west Gaza City two-storey construction and badly damaging surrounding houses. Women and kids rushed out of the world.

“Warned us? They warned us with rockets, and we fled without taking anything,” mentioned Huda Shamallakh, who lived subsequent door, including that 15 individuals lived in the home that was focused.

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Reporting from Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Youmna ElSayed mentioned that the assaults on Gaza “have not stopped since the early morning hours”.

Standing in entrance of one other four-storey home flattened by an Israeli strike, ElSayed mentioned the constructing had housed 30 residents.

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“Israel is now targeting homes,” she mentioned, explaining that a number of different residences within the Gaza Strip had been focused. “A lot of people have fallen as casualties during the strikes, many of them children.”

Reporting from the Gaza-Israeli border, Al Jazeera’s John Holman mentioned that the world was on excessive alert with individuals on the Israeli facet sheltering as some rockets from Gaza fell onto southern Israel.

“We have the first report of injuries on the Israeli side – two soldiers,” he mentioned, explaining that 160 rockets had been launched from Gaza into southern Israel since Friday.

“It gives you an indication of how uneven this fight between Israel – which has vast military capabilities – and the Islamic Jihad is,” he added.

Rubble of Palestinian home in Gaza
A view of the rubble that was once the Shamallakh household home in Gaza Strip [Hosam Salem/Al Jazeera]

Power plant shut down

Also on Saturday, Gaza’s sole energy plant shut down after operating out of gasoline, an electrical energy firm spokesman mentioned, 5 days after Israel closed its items crossing with the Palestinian enclave.

“The power plant in Gaza has stopped due to the fuel shortage,” mentioned Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for the electrical energy firm.

The electrical energy provide is anticipated to plummet to simply 4 hours a day, Thabet mentioned.

Diesel for the facility plant is normally trucked in from Egypt or Israel, which has maintained a blockade of the enclave for the reason that armed group Hamas took management of Gaza in 2007.

In a press release earlier on Saturday, Gaza’s electrical energy firm mentioned the shutdown “will affect all public utilities and crucial installations and exacerbate the humanitarian situation”.

The firm referred to as on “all parties to urgently intervene and allow the entrance of fuel deliveries for the power plant to work”.

“This brings the people and health sector into a bigger crisis. There were eight hours of electricity in Gaza … this has been shortened to four. It will be nothing if fuel doesn’t enter the Strip,” mentioned Al Jazeera’s ElSayed.

Gaza’s 2.three million residents expertise common energy shortages and final week obtained solely a mean of 10 hours of electrical energy per day, in line with information from the UN’s humanitarian company OCHA.

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Escalating tensions

The newest spherical of Israel-Gaza violence was sparked by the arrest this week of a senior Islamic Jihad commander within the occupied West Bank, a part of a month-long Israeli army operation within the territory.

Citing a safety menace, Israel then sealed roads across the Gaza Strip and on Friday killed Taysir al-Jabari, a commander of the al-Quds Brigades, in a focused strike.

A blast was heard in Gaza City, the place smoke poured from the seventh ground of a tall constructing. Video launched by Israel’s army confirmed the strikes blowing up three towers.

The Palestinian Health Ministry mentioned a five-year-old woman and a 23-year-old lady had been amongst these killed in Gaza, and dozens of others had been wounded.

Overnight, Israel arrested 19 Islamic Jihad members within the occupied West Bank, the Israeli army mentioned.

In a nationally televised speech on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid mentioned his nation launched the assaults based mostly on “concrete threats”.

The violence poses an early check for Lapid, who assumed the position of caretaker prime minister forward of elections in November, when he hopes to maintain the place.

Lapid, a centrist former TV host and writer, has expertise in diplomacy having served as international minister within the outgoing authorities, however has skinny safety credentials.

A battle with Gaza might burnish his standing and provides him a lift as he faces off in opposition to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a safety hawk who led the nation throughout three of its 4 wars with Hamas.

Hamas additionally faces a dilemma in deciding whether or not to affix a brand new battle barely a yr after the final battle brought on widespread devastation.

There has been almost no reconstruction since then, and the remoted coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering at about 50 p.c.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum mentioned “the Israeli enemy, which started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it”.

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