October 30, 2011 · 0 Comments
Egyptian officials seek to broker truce after nine Palestinians and one Israeli killed in airstrikes and rocket attacks.
Source: Aljazeera English
Egyptian officials have attempted to broker a truce between Israel and Palestinian fighters after Israeli airstrikes killed nine Palestinian fighters and Palestinian rocket fire killed one Israeli in the region’s worst violence since August.
Palestinians carry one of five dead bodies of Islamic Jihad militants into the morgue of Al Najar hospital following an Israeli air strike on an Islamic Jihad training base in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. Israeli aircraft killed 5 Palestinian militants from the Islamic Jihad group whom it says were responsible for recent rocket attacks on Israel, the military said Saturday. The military said it targeted the same group of militants that fired rockets that exploded near the Israeli city of Ashdod Wednesday night. No Israelis were injured in that attack. (Eyad Baba / AP)
The ceasefire, mediated by Egyptian officials following the deadly exchanges between the two sides on Saturday, was due to come into effect at 6am (04:00 GMT), said sources close to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“The efforts and intensive contacts led by senior Egyptian intelligence service officials led to a national consensus to restore calm” with Israel, a leader of one of the Palestinian groups, who asked to remain anonymous, told the AFP news agency.
But there were reports on Sunday morning of further exchanges, while the Associated Press news agency reported that mediation efforts had failed, quoting an anonymous Egyptian official.
Gaza residents reported hearing explosions as Al Jazeera’s sources said Israel had embarked on a new round of attacks on Islamic Jihad targets there.
An Israeli police spokesman told AFP that 12 rockets had been fired into Israel overnight, the last an hour after the ceasefire was supposed to have come into effect. Neither side reported any new casualties on Sunday.
Gaza fighters ‘killed’
Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for Gaza’s emergency services, said on Saturday that five members of the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, were killed and three wounded in a first Israeli attack on a training camp near Rafah.
The dead included a commander named as Ahmed al-Sheikh Khalil, the group said.
As fighting continued into the night, Israeli aircraft struck more targets in Gaza, witnesses and Palestinian officials said, killing four more Palestinian fighters and wounding two more people.
At least two of those were killed as they tried to fire a Grad rocket into Israel, an Al-Quds spokesman said.
An Israeli strike east of Gaza City and two in the area of Khan Yunis, in the south, caused no casualties, witnesses said.
As rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel, police raised a national alert to its second-highest level.
The Israeli military said the Rafah raid had “targeted a terrorist squad in the southern Gaza strip responsible for the firing of military-use projectiles towards the Israeli home front”.
Within hours of the attack, at least 20 Palestinian rockets and mortar bombs hit different sites in southern Israel, wounding three civilians, Israeli police said.
One rocket slammed into a community centre and another into a block of flats, setting parked cars and gas canisters alight.
Rockets hit the city of Ashdod, the nearby town of Gan Yavneh and the city of Ashkelon, to the south, police said.
The Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket fire and posted a video on its website which it said showed the launching of five of the rockets.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also claimed responsibility for the attacks.
And a spokesman for Hamas’ Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades blamed Israel for the escalation.
“The occupation is completely responsible for the crime in Rafah and all of the resistance factions cannot leave the shedding of our martyrs’ blood unanswered,” Abu Obeida, Hamas spokesman, said. “We shall discuss the answer to this crime.”
The air raid and earlier rocket attack were the first violent incidents since October 18 when Hamas repatriated Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier it seized in 2006, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 jailed Palestinians .
By Emma Brown