The death toll from aggression on Gaza had risen to 24 on Sunday, including six children, as Zionists pressed on with their bombardment of Palestinian militants who have retaliated with barrages of rockets.
The updated count from health authorities in the Hamas Islamist-run territory said six children were among those killed since the start of the “Israeli aggression” on Friday, in addition to 204 people injured.
But Zionists said it had “irrefutable” evidence that a stray rocket from Islamic Jihad militants had been responsible for the death of multiple children in Jabalia, northern Gaza, on Saturday.
It was not immediately clear how many children were killed in the incident in Jabalia. An AFP photographer saw six dead bodies at an area hospital, including three minors.
The violence is the worst in Gaza since a war last year that devastated the impoverished territory — home to some 2.3 million Palestinians — and forced countless Zionists to seek shelter from rockets.
Zionist’s military has warned its latest aerial and artillery campaign against Islamic Jihad could last a week, but Egypt’s President said Cairo was talking “around the clock” with both sides to ease the violence.
Zionist entity has said it was necessary to launch a “pre-emptive” operation against Islamic Jihad, as the group was planning an imminent attack following days of tensions along the border with Gaza.
The head of the army’s operations directorate, Oded Basiok, said the entire “senior leadership of the military wing of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza has been neutralized” by Zionist’s campaign.
That includes Taysir al-Jabari, a top militant commander killed in Gaza City on Friday, and Khaled Mansourwho Islamic Jihad confirmed died in a strike in Rafah, southern Gaza on Saturday.
A total of eight people were killed in the Rafah strike, including a 14-year-old, according to Gaza’s interior ministry.
Daily life in the strip has come to a standstill, while the electricity distributor said the sole power station shut down due to a lack of fuel after Zionists closed its border crossings.
Gaza’s health ministry said the next few hours will be “crucial and difficult”, warning it risked suspending vital services within 72 hours as a result of the lack of electricity.
In Gaza City, resident Dounia Ismail said Palestinians had become accustomed to preparing a “survival bag” of items such as money and medicine.
“This latest escalation brings back images of fear, anxiety, and the feeling that we are all alone,” she told AFP.
Civilians in southern and central Zionist entity, meanwhile, have been forced into air raid shelters since Friday.
The Magen David Adom emergency service said two people were hospitalized with shrapnel wounds and 13 others were lightly hurt while running for safety.
in Kibbutz Nahal Ozan Zionist community beside the Gaza border, resident Nadav Peretz said he had been “in the bomb shelter or around it” since Friday.
“We recognize that on the other side too there is an uninvolved civilian population, and on both sides children deserve to enjoy their summer vacation,” the 40-year-old said.
Islamic Jihad is aligned with Hamas, but often acts independently. Both are blacklisted as terrorist organizations by much of the West.
Hamas has fought four wars with Zionists since seizing control of Gaza in 2007, including the conflict last May.
A flare-up with Islamic Jihad came in 2019, following Zionist’s killing of Baha Abu al-Ata, Jabari’s predecessor. Hamas did not join the fray in that conflict.
Hamas’s moves now could prove crucial, with the group facing pressure from some to restore calm in order to improve economic conditions in Gaza.
Focus will in part turn to Jerusalem on Sunday, where some Jews will mark the Tisha Be’av remembrance day by visiting the holy city’s most sensitive religious site, the Al Aqsa mosque compound, known in Judaism as the Temple Mount.
Tensions at the compound in Zionist -annexed east Jerusalem have previously sparked wider violence, and Hamas’s Doha-based chief Ismail Haniyeh has warned against allowing Jews to “storm” the compound on Sunday, saying it could lead to an “uncontrollable” security crisis given events in Gaza.
Extreme-right Zionist politician Itamar Ben Gvir is scheduled to visit the compound on Sunday morning./agencies