GAZA/JERUSALEM : In the continued aerial barrage against Gaza by the Isreal, around 26 Palestinians, including at least 14 gunmen and six civilians, have been killed, according to the Medica. Dozens have been injured on both sides.
But, Palestinian officials reported 32 deaths, including a 7-year-old boy and six members of a single family.
The worst surge in fighting around the Palestinian enclave has broken on Tuesday when Israel killed Islamic Jihad’s top Gaza field commander in an air strike, accusing him of masterminding a spree of recent attacks and planning more soon. As Islamic Jihad fighters responded with hundreds of rocket launches that reached as far as Tel Aviv and paralyzed parts of Israel, it pressed the aerial barrage from Israel on the Gaza Strip. It is reported that Islamic Jihad has fired some 400 rockets toward Israel, while Israel has responded with scores of airstrikes.
U.N. and Islamic Jihad officials were in touch on Wednesday with Egyptian mediators to come out with a peace-deal to end fighting in Gaza, and Israel did not respond to the single rocket launch after the cease-fire announcement.
Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad offered terms on Wednesday for an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire with Israel, saying if these were not met it was prepared to keep up cross-border rocket salvoes indefinitely despite a mounting Gaza death toll. However, Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group, which is much larger and more powerful than Islamic Jihad, stayed out of the fighting. Unlike with past rounds of fighting, this time Hamas has been spared of Israeli retaliation.
In his first public comments on the fighting, Islamic Jihad leader Zeyad al-Nakhala said a truce could be agreed immediately if Israel accepted the Iranian-backed faction’s terms. These included Israel ending targeted killings of militants, its sometimes lethal response to weekly Gaza protests and steps to ease its blockade on the coastal Palestinian enclave, al-Nakhala, who is based in Beirut, told Al-Mayadeen TV.
Al-Nakhala said he expected to hear Israel’s response via Cairo within hours. Israel signaled openness only to a quid-pro-quo restraint.
“Quiet will be answered with quiet,” Israel’s Army Radio quoted an unnamed Israeli government official as saying. “Islamic Jihad wants a ceasefire, and it is thus trying to create a false impression of achievements.”
Israel had previously said it sought no escalation in Gaza.