Warplanes pounded Gaza for a second day on Thursday as three Israelis and three Palestinians were killed in fierce fighting which began with Israel’s targeted killing of a top Hamas chief.
Israel’s harshest assault on the Palestinian territory in four years prompted an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council amid growing international concern. Police said that since Israel’s targeted killing of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jaabari on Wednesday afternoon, militants have fired around 180 rockets over the border, one of which hit a house on Thursday morning, killing three Israelis and injuring another four. And the Israeli air force has pounded Gaza with more than 100 air strikes, killing 11 and injuring at least 115, medics and Hamas officials said.
In Gaza, Palestinian medics said three Hamas militants were killed in an early strike near the southern city of Khan Yunis. Throughout the morning, further air strikes hit northern Gaza, Gaza City and east of Khan Yunis, injuring another three, medics and security sources said.
Only “the beginning”
Israel has said the strikes were only “the beginning” of an offensive targeting Gaza militants and warned it may expand its activity. Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the operation, called Operation Pillar of Defence, was to strengthen Israel’s deterrence, damage militant groups’ rocket-firing capabilities and stamp out attacks on Israel.
Hamas’s armed wing warned saying that by killing its leader Israel had “opened the gates of hell on itself.”
U.S. defends Israel
In New York, the UN Security Council held an emergency 90-minute session to discuss the crisis, with Arab states pushing for a strong condemnation, but the U.S. envoy strongly defending Israel’s right to self-defence in the face of Palestinian rocket fire.
Amid fears of a regional flare up over the confrontation, U.S. President Barack Obama and UN chief Ban Ki-moon both phoned Netanyahu and Morsy in a bid to de-escalate the conflict.AFP