GAZA CITY, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES (AFP) – Israel hit Gaza with deadly air strikes yesterday and a Palestinian militant group retaliated with a barrage of rocket fire, in the territory’s worst escalation of violence since a war last year.
Israel said it was forced to launch a “pre-emptive” operation against extremists, insisting the group was planning an imminent attack following days of tensions along the Gaza border.
Health authorities in Gaza, a Palestinian enclave controlled by Hamas, said a five-year-old girl was among 12 people killed by the Israeli bombardment. Over 80 others have been wounded.
The Israeli military warned yesterday it was “preparing for the operation to last a week”, while the sole power station in Gaza ground to a halt due to a lack of fuel after Israel closed border crossings.
Sources within the militant group ruled out a ceasefire soon, with one saying: “for the movement the focus is on the battlefield”, while an Israeli military spokesman told AFP that the army is “not currently holding ceasefire negotiations”.
The rocket fire and Israeli strikes were continuing yesterday, risking a repeat of an 11-day conflict in May 2021 that devastated Gaza and forced countless Israelis to rush to bomb shelters.
Daily life in the Palestinian enclave has come to a standstill, with streets largely deserted and most shops closed.