Israeli air strikes in the heart of Gaza City have flattened three buildings and killed at least 26 people. This makes it the deadliest single attack since Israel began attacks on Gaza nearly a week ago.
The Gaza health ministry said 10 women and eight children were among those killed in Sunday’s attack, with another 50 people injured. Rescuers raced to pull survivors and bodies from the rubble following the assault.
Israel bombing before peace talks
Earlier, Israel claims it had bombed the home of Gaza’s top Hamas leader in a separate strike. It was the third such air attack targeting the homes of Hamas leaders in the last two days.
Israel appears to have stepped up its deadly air strikes in recent days. These attacks come as efforts to broker a ceasefire accelerate with the arrival of a US diplomat in the region and talks at the UN Security Council.
The military said it struck the homes of Yehiyeh Sinwar, the most senior Hamas leader inside the territory, and his brother Muhammad, another senior Hamas member. On Saturday it destroyed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior figure in Hamas’s political branch.
Brigadier general Hidai Zilberman confirmed the strike on Sinwar’s house in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis to army radio. He said the home of his brother, who is in charge of Hamas “logistics and personnel”, was also destroyed.
The human cost of Israel’s air strikes
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group have acknowledged 20 fighters have been killed since the fighting broke out last Monday. And at least 174 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 47 children and 29 women, with more than 1,200 injured. Eight Israelis have been killed, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier.
Hamas and other groups have fired some 2,900 rockets into Israel since Monday. This came as a result of Israeli police storming the al-Asqa mosque and using tear gas and rubber bullets on Palestinian worshippers. Additionally Israel threatened to evict dozens of Palestinian families from a nearby neighbourhood.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes across the impoverished and blockaded territory, which is home to more than two million Palestinians, and brought down a number of high-rise buildings – including one that housed the Associated Press office in Gaza.
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