Israeli strikes on Gaza leave at least 43 people dead
When Israeli rockets slammed into her neighbourhood in a crowded refugee camp in the Gaza strip on Saturday night (August 6), 9-year-old Leen Matar said she was so scared that she began to recite Islam's final prayers.
"I was at my grandfather’s house when suddenly the rubble started to fall on us," she told Reuters from a hospital bed, her father beside her as she was treated for a broken leg. "We started to cry until the neighbours arrived and rescued us."
Matar was wounded in an Israeli strike that killed a senior commander with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group late on Saturday evening, the second day of a major flare-up in violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
The Gaza authorities said five civilians were killed in the attack in the Rafah refugee camp, along with the commander - Khaled Mansour - and two of his associates.
A senior Israeli military officer said Israel had hit Mansour and a few commanders with him. He said the army did not know exactly how many civilians were killed but he denied it was five.
On Sunday morning (August 7), residents sifted through the rubble at the camp, a warren of alleys that is home to Palestinians whose families fled or were expelled from towns and villages in 1948 during the war of Israel's creation.
Some carried away a small bike and some books. Another dragged pieces of furniture away. Others looked for family documents and photo albums.
The casualties add to the toll of the most serious escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in more than a year.
An Egyptian security source said Israel had agreed to the proposal, while a Palestinian official familiar with Egyptian efforts said the ceasefire would go into effect at 20:00 (1700 GMT).
Spokespeople for Israel and Islamic Jihad, the faction it has been fighting in Gaza since clashes erupted on Friday, did not confirm this, saying only that they were in contact with Cairo.
Israel began mounting air strikes on Friday against what it described as Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. Around 30 Palestinians have been killed, at least a third of them civilians. Israel says it does not target civilians.
Islamic Jihad has fired hundreds of missiles into Israel, where antimissile defences have prevented casualties but people have still been driven into shelters.
Palestinian residents said six homes had been destroyed in Rafah. The senior Israeli officer said Israel had destroyed the house Mansour was in and not the surrounding houses, and the strike was timed to minimise "collateral damage".
Residents had joined emergency workers and medics in rescue operations that continued until dawn, witnesses said.
Ashraf Al-Qaissi, 46, whose house was about 50 metres from the targeted area, described chaotic scenes as residents sought to flee while aiding casualties.
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