Bloodiest Eid in Gaza: Over 100 dead

Israeli warplanes hit the house of top Hamas leader and the only power plant 

Gaza/Jerusalem : Over 100 Palestinians were killed on Tuesday as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensified in Gaza after a brief lull as both sides ignored international appeal for restraint and the Jewish state warned of a “prolonged” war that has already claimed over 1,100 lives, reports PTI.

Israel stepped up its bombardment of the Gaza Strip warning people in three densely populated areas to vacate their homes in response to rocket attacks from the Palestinian side. Gaza’s only power plant was damaged as Israel carried out 60 air strikes, also targeting sites associated with Hamas, the group which controls Gaza.

 “A shell had hit a fuel container after another shell had hit a steam engine in the plant setting fire,” Nadal Toman, an engineer with the distribution company in Gaza, told PTI. “It was very difficult to control the fire”, Toman, who studied at Aligarh Muslim University, said.

Israeli warplanes also hit the house of Hamas’ top leader in Gaza Ismail Haniya, his son said. “The Israeli enemy struck our house twice,” Abed Salam Haniya said in a statement. As the death toll rose, Palestinian leadership offered a 24-hour truce, which could be extended to 72 hours, and that the idea had support from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another militant group in Gaza, Palestinian news agency WAFA said.

But Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the WAFA report was not true and “not related to the resistance,” which “speaks for itself.” Ten Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday, five of them in an attempted infiltration into Israel via a cross-border tunnel from Gaza, raising the military casualty on the Israeli side to 53 since the start of Operation Protective Edge July 8.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military will not end its incursion into Gaza until it has destroyed tunnels Hamas is using to attack civilians outside Gaza in an appeal to the citizens to prepare for a “prolonged” war.

The region saw one of the bloodiest Eid in its memory. A spokesman for Gaza’s Ministry of Health said that that more than 1,115 Palestinians have been killed in the 22-day conflict. UN Relief and Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said in a tweet that a number of staff members had reportedly been killed.

The latest escalation came amid intense international pressures for a ceasefire and failed multiple attempts to push both sides for a lull of at least for the three-day Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. Nine children were killed on Monday by a strike on a Gaza children’s playground in al-Shati refugee camp where some families had come out to celebrate the first day of Eid.

A spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that the explosion was caused when a rocket launched by Gaza militants misfired and landed in the park.

Harinder Mishra          

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