Israeli jets pound targets in Gaza as hostilities escalate

Israeli jets pound targets in Gaza as hostilities escalate

Israeli jets today pounded Gaza with 40 air strikes that killed five Palestinians, as Hamas fired several rockets into Israel, vowing to continue its resistance in the month-long conflict that has claimed about 2,000 lives.

The Israeli military said it had carried out more than 100 strikes in Gaza since yesterday with 40 of them since midnight, including on terror activity sites, command and control centres and weapon storage facilities.

Five Palestinians were killed, including two traveling by motorcycle and three whose bodies were pulled from the wreckage of a mosque, Gaza health officials said.

Reports said senior Hamas official Moaaz Zaid was also killed in Israeli air strikes today.

Over 1,960 people have died since violence erupted in Gaza in early July. More than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed. Sixty-seven people have died on the Israeli side, including three civilians.

Israel renewed strikes on Gaza soon after the three-day ceasefire lapsed yesterday, saying it was in response to rocket fire by Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Residents of southern Israel woke up early morning to the piercing sound of code red rocket alerts, as a barrage of rockets from Gaza targeted their neighborhoods.

The army said Palestinian militants fired 14 rockets into Israel, bringing to 52 the total number of projectiles launched at the Jewish state since the 72-hour truce ended.

Hamas vowed today that there would be no concessions to Israel. "There will be no going back, the resistance will continue," Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhum said in a statement.

"The occupier's intransigence will get it nowhere and we will make no concessions on the demands of our people," he said.

Following through on his promise to respond with force against any renewed hostilities by Hamas, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the Israli Air Force to strike targets in Gaza, as the Operation Protective Edge entered its 33rd day.

The Palestinian interior ministry said Israeli jets destroyed three mosques with the strikes bringing the number of mosques totally destroyed in attacks to 65. More than 150 mosques have also been damaged along with two churches.

Tensions have also been growing in the West Bank where protesters clashed with Israeli troops. Reports said two Palestinians had been shot dead.

The air strikes continued, even as Egypt-mediated negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli delegations were stalled, despite some indications yesterday that both sides were close to an agreement.