Death toll in Gaza 122; UN exhorts Arab League to back efforts for truce
Fresh exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas continued unabated on Tuesday amid intensified international diplomatic efforts, with Egypt saying that Israeli “aggression” would end in hours, as a week of incessant raids claimed at least 122 Palestinian lives.
A loud boom was heard in Jerusalem with the Israeli police and army saying a rocket had crashed into an open area near Gush Etzion. No casualties were reported. An Israeli air strike on Gaza City killed at least six people and took the death toll of Palestinians to 122.
Eleven Hamas rockets came flying into the Israeli city of Beer Sheva, causing casualties. More than 30 rockets were fired into the area, but most were destroyed by Iron Dome interceptors.
Israel’s air force dropped leaflets across Gaza City that asked people to evacuate their homes “immediately”. The Israeli military, meanwhile, reported that a strike “targeted two terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip,” and a “direct hit was confirmed.”
“Zionist enemy would pay high price for his crimes in Gaza,” Hamas’ military wing the al Qassam Brigades quoted one of its leaders as saying.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Gaza’s Hamas leaders to choose between peace and “the sword.” “Our hand is outstretched in peace to those of our neighbours who want to make peace with us and the other hand is firmly grasping the sword of David against those who wish to uproot us from this country,” he said in a statement, referring to the biblical warrior king.
Egyptian President Muhammed Mursi said Israel’s “aggression” against Gaza would end today and Egypt’s mediation efforts would produce “positive results” shortly, the official Mena news agency reported. A top delegation of Arab ministers led by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi began a solidarity mission in Gaza today looking to bring an end to the hostilities.
US President Barack Obama today dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East on a fire fighting mission to defuse tension and prevent any further escalation of conflict in the region. “Clinton will depart today and she’ll travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from Phonm Penh,” Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication, said. UN chief Ban Ki-moon met the Arab league chief, Nabil al-Arabi, and called on to support Mursi’s efforts to mediate a truce.