Zionist air strikes batter Gaza

GAZA: Zionist air strikes battered Gaza and militants fired rockets again on Saturday, as deadly fighting resumed after a night of relative calm despite efforts to secure a truce. A new ceasefire proposal was circulated late Friday by Egypt, which has been mediating between the two sides, after a previous bid fell through, a Palestinian source said. Zionist anti-aircraft defenses went into action Saturday after a barrage of rocket fire from Gaza during the funeral of Islamic Jihad military commander Iyad al-Hassani, who was killed the previous day in a Zionist strike, AFP reporters said.

The Islamic Jihad said its fighters were pursuing “missile strikes on cities” in revenge for Zionist “assassinations” of their commanders and strikes on inhabited regions. Residents in the crowded Gaza Strip cowered indoors as the fighting raged, with streets empty and only a few shops and pharmacies open. The exchange of fire came after the Palestinian health ministry reported the death of two men aged 19 and 32 in a Zionist army raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

The army said it was a “counterterrorism” operation targeting operatives who had been planning attacks on soldiers. “Armed gunmen fired at the forces, who responded with riot dispersal means and live fire,” it said. “Two of the terrorists were targeted.” The Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the two men killed in the raid were members of its armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.


‘Honorable agreement’

The current bout of violence erupted on Tuesday when Zionist strikes on Gaza killed three leading Islamic Jihad members. Three other senior figures from the Palestinian militant group were killed in later strikes. They are among at least 33 Palestinian lives lost in the fighting, according to Gaza’s health ministry, including children. There has been one fatality on Zionist territory: an elderly woman who rescue services said was killed on Thursday night when a rocket struck the central city of Rehovot.

On Saturday, sirens warning of incoming fire sounded throughout the day in Zionist communities close to the border with Gaza. Egypt, a historic mediator between Zionist and Gaza’s factions, has been working on bringing an end to the fighting, the worst in the Zionist-Palestinian conflict since an August flare-up that killed nearly 50 Palestinians. A Palestinian source on Friday said Gaza factions were studying Cairo’s new ceasefire formula, while Zionist public television said an “improved” truce proposal had been handed to Zionists.

There had been cautious optimism a truce may be nearing, but an Islamic Jihad source said Zionists were “disrupting Egypt’s efforts for a ceasefire”. The United States, which along with the European Union has blacklisted Islamic Jihad and Hamas as terrorist groups, urged steps be “taken to ensure that violence is reduced”. Islamic Jihad said it had been seeking “an honorable agreement that reflects the interests of the Palestinian people and the resistance”.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in a call to Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, “stressed the urgency of reaching a ceasefire agreement in order to prevent any further loss of civilian life”, the State Department said. Morocco, which normalized relations with Zionists in 2020, said it “firmly condemns recent attacks on the Gaza Strip, which have left numerous casualties among innocent civilians”. The army said nearly 1,100 rockets had been fired from Gaza towards Zionist entity in the current fighting, including 300 intercepted by its air defenses. People living in areas bordering the Palestinian territory have been told to stay close to bomb shelters. Gaza, a coastal enclave with a population of about 2.3 Palestinians, has been plagued by poverty and unemployment since a blockade imposed by Zionists in 2007 when the Islamist movement Hamas took over. — AFP

The territory has since been the site of numerous wars between militant groups and Zionists, including the fighting in August 2022 in which 19 children were among the 49 killed, according to the United Nations. The conflict has escalated since veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power late last year, heading a coalition with extreme right and ultra-Orthodox parties.

Zionist entity has also been shaken by its biggest domestic political crisis in decades, as mass protests have flared against plans to reform the justice system that have been spearheaded by Netanyahu, who is also battling corruption charges in court. — AFP

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