A Palestinian man carries a stuffed toy in a street littered with debris after an Israeli air raid in Gaza. (AFP)
Gaza City, Nov. 19: After a night of sustained Israeli strikes by air and sea and a morning of rocket attacks on Israel, the health ministry here said today that the Palestinian death toll in six days of conflict had risen to 91 with 700 wounded, including 200 children, as the assault ground on unrelentingly despite efforts toward a cease-fire.
The casualties — 19 people reported killed since midnight local time — included Palestinians killed in strikes by warplanes and a drone attack on two men on a motorcycle. Another drone attack killed the driver of a taxi hired by journalists and displaying “Press” signs, although it was not clear which journalists hired it, Palestinian officials said.
Yesterday, Israeli forces attacked two buildings housing local broadcasters and production companies used by foreign outlets. Israeli officials denied targeting journalists, but today Israeli forces again blasted the Al Sharouk block used by many local broadcasters as well as Britain’s Sky News and the Al Arabiya channel.
The attack, apparently aimed at a computer shop on the third floor of the building, sparked a blaze that sent plumes of dark smoke creeping up the sides of the building. Video footage showed clouds of grey smoke billowing from the high-rise building as the missiles struck home.
An Israeli bomb pummelled a home deep into the ground here yesterday, killing 11 people, including nine in three generations of a single family, in the deadliest single strike in six days of cross-border conflict. Members of the family were buried today in a rite that turned into a gesture of defiance and became a rally supporting Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.
A militant leader said Tel Aviv, in the Israeli heartland, would be hit “over and over” and warned Israelis that their leaders were misleading them and would “take them to hell”.
The airstrikes further indicated that Israel was striking a wide range of targets. Three Israelis have been killed and at least 79 wounded by continued rocket fire into southern Israel and as far north as Tel Aviv.
Israel says its onslaught is designed to stop Hamas from launching the rockets, but, after an apparent lull overnight, more missiles hurtled towards targets in Israel, some of them intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system. Of five rockets fired today at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, four were intercepted but one smashed through the concrete roof at the entrance to an empty school. There were no reports of casualties.
The latest exchanges offered a grim backdrop to Egyptian-led ceasefire efforts that have so far proved inconclusive. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, was set to join the effort in Cairo.
Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces, said there had been a reduction of up to 40 per cent in rocket fire from Gaza, while Israeli forces had launched 40 attacks on tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, both at the entrances and along the road leading to them, causing considerable damage.