Israelis, Gaza militants fight on, defying truce efforts

Israel launched more than 20 aerial attacks in Gaza on Saturday, killing five Palestinians, and militants fired rockets at Israel as the conflict entered a second month, defying international efforts to negotiate an agreement for an extended ceasefire.

Medical officials in Gaza said two Palestinians were killed when their motorcycle was bombed and the bodies of three others were found beneath the rubble of one of three bombed mosques.

The air strikes which lasted through the night also bombed three houses, and fighter planes also strafed open areas, medical officials said.

The Israeli military said that since midnight it had attacked more than 30 sites in the coastal enclave where Hamas Islamists are dominant, without specifying the targets.

Gaza militants fired six rockets at towns in Israel’s south on Saturday setting off alarm sirens and causing no damage or injuries, a military spokeswoman said.

Violence also picked up in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian territory where President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement holds sway, where a Palestinian man, 43, died of a gunshot wound to the chest from a confrontation with Israeli soldiers in the city of Hebron, medical officials said.

Israeli troops shot and killed another Palestinian man, 20, on Friday at a protest near a Jewish settlement outside Ramallah, Israeli military officials said.

Egypt, helped by American and European mediators, has made no visible progress toward resuming a 72-hour ceasefire that halted the fighting between Israel and Gaza militants that began on July 8, but was expected to pursue these efforts again on Saturday.

The ceasefire expired on Friday with the sides still far apart on the terms for renewing the deal and each side blaming the other for refusing to extend it.

Israel accused Hamas of firing several rockets about four hours before the deal expired at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT). In all, Gaza militant fired 57 rockets at Israel throughout Friday.

Israel also launched air strikes in Gaza on Friday, killing five Palestinians, among them a 10-year-old boy near a mosque in Gaza City. An Islamic Jihad militant and three other Palestinians were killed in the southern Gaza Strip.

Police said two people in Israel were injured by mortar fire from Gaza on Friday.

 

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