Saturday, May 25, 2024

Top Palestinian commander killed in Israeli strike on Gaza

At least two Palestinians, including a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), have been killed and several others wounded on the fourth consecutive day of Israeli bombardment on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials have confirmed.

One of the people killed in Friday’s air raid on an apartment was a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group (PIJ), identified as Iyad al-Hassani, local media reported.

It brought the total number of Palestinians killed in this week’s bombardment to at least 33, including several children, with more than 110 also wounded.

The latest strike targeted a six-storey building in the densely populated al-Nasr neighbourhood. Israel targeted a residential apartment which destroyed at least three floors of the building. Civil defence teams evacuated at least 10 people who have been critically injured.

Hundreds of rockets have also been launched from the besieged enclave towards Israel, with a 70-year-old killed in central Israel. The Israeli Army has announced so far nearly 1,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip.

Jennifer Austin, director of operations in the Gaza field office for the UN refugee agency (UNRWA), said the humanitarian situation is “already dire”.

“It’s a really bad situation coming off of 15 years of … an economic and social blockade,” Austin told Al Jazeera.

“The people here are not very hopeful … they’re at the end of their coping mechanisms,” she added.

Despite days of bombardment, UNRWA has been continuing their food distribution programme, as well as sanitation in the camps, Austin said. The agency’s 22 health centres are also till operating.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met army and intelligence officials early on Friday.

The cross-border exchanges this week have pitted Israel against Islamic Jihad, the second-largest armed group in Gaza after the territory’s Hamas rulers.

Meanwhile, Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have been working to broker a ceasefire.

Hamas officials told local media on Friday that Egypt was ramping up its diplomatic efforts to stop the fighting through “intensive contacts” with both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Senior official Ihasan Attaya complained on Friday that the mediators “have been unable to provide us with any guarantees”. A sticking point has been Islamic Jihad’s demands that Israel cease its policy of targeted killings, Attaya said.

This week’s battles began on Tuesday when Israel launched simultaneous air raids that killed three Islamic Jihad commanders along with at least 10 civilians – some of their wives, children and neighbours – as they slept in their homes.

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