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Israel on Sunday continued the ongoing bombardment of Islamic Jihad positions in the Gaza Strip for a third straight day as violence escalated. So far 31 Palestinians reported dead even as militants began firing their first rockets at Jerusalem.
No fewer than six children were among those who were killed in the latest ‘Israeli aggression’ since Friday, and 265 people have been wounded, said health authorities in the Islamist-run enclave where several buildings were reduced to ruins.
The fighting is the worst to hit Gaza since last year’s conflict, which left the 2.3 million Palestinians living there in poverty and compelled Israelis to seek cover from rockets.
Israel continued its aerial and artillery bombardment of the sites of Islamic Jihad, a group supported by Iran and listed as a terrorist organisation by a number of Western countries. In response, the group fired approximately 500 rockets at Israeli targets.
The Israeli army has claimed that the entire ‘senior leadership of the military wing of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza has been neutralised’, and Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed Sunday that “the operation will continue as long as necessary”.
In Gaza, run by the Islamist group Hamas — who said Sunday they were “united” with Islamic Jihad, but have not joined the fray — the ministry said 31 people had died since the start of Israel’s “Operation Breaking Dawn”.
Israel said it had ‘irrefutable’ evidence that a stray rocket fired by Islamic Jihad was responsible for the deaths of several children in Jabalia, northern Gaza, on Saturday.
It was not immediately clear how many children were killed there, but an AFP photographer saw six dead bodies at the local hospital, including three minors.
‘We were sitting in the street and suddenly we saw an explosion,” said Muhammad Abu Sadaa, describing the devastation in Jabalia.
‘We came running to the place and found body parts lying on the ground… they were torn-apart children.’
The army said it had struck 139 Islamic Jihad positions, with the militants firing 470 rockets that had crossed into Israel, while another 115 rockets fired from Gaza fell inside the enclave.