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Israeli airstrike levels 7-storey building in Gaza

Palestinians gather in front of the rubble of the al-Zafer apartment tower following an Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip.  

Gaza police say Israeli airstrikes have levelled a seven-floor office building and severely damaged a two-storey commercial building with dozens of shops in the southern town of Rafah.

An office of the Hamas-run Interior Ministry was located in the seven-storry Zourab building. Police say seven people were wounded by the bombing of the commercial centre. There were no reports of casualties from the other strike.

The strikes early on Sunday came hours after Israel toppled a 12-storey apartment tower in Gaza City. Israel says it targeted a Hamas operations room in the apartment tower.

The targeting of large buildings appears to be part of a new military tactic by Israel. Over the weekend, the army began warning Gaza residents in automated phone calls that it would target buildings harbouring “terrorist infrastructure” and that they should stay away.

A senior military official confirmed that Israel has a policy of striking at buildings containing Hamas operational centers or those from which military activities are launched. The official said each strike required prior approval from military lawyers and is carried out only after the local population is warned.

Meanwhile, Gaza militants continued to fire rockets and mortar shells at Israel, including at least 10 on Sunday, the military said. That was in addition to more than 100 on Saturday, most aimed at southern Israel.





Elsewhere, five rockets were fired from Syria and fell in open areas in northern Israel. It was not immediately clear whether they were fired by pro-government forces or rebel groups.

Amid persistent violence, Egypt has urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume indirect talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire, but stopped short of issuing invitations.

Several rounds of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas have collapsed, along with temporary ceasefires that accompanied them. The gaps between Israel and the Islamic militant group on a new border deal for blockaded Gaza remain vast, and there’s no sign either is willing to budge.

The Israeli military said it had carried out some 20 strikes on Gaza since midnight on Saturday.

Witnesses said the seven-storey building was leveled and that the strikes caused severe damage to nearby shops, homes and cars.

Another strike hit a nearby shopping center with dozens of shops, sparking a fire that gutted the two-storey building. After daybreak Sunday, smoke was still rising from the site as shop owners inspected the damage. Windows and doors had been blown out in nearby buildings.

The military said the two buildings were attacked because they housed facilities linked to militants, but did not provide details. The Gaza City apartment tower toppled on Saturday was targeted because a Hamas command center operated from there, the army said.

Palestinian health official Ashraf Al Kidra said two people were killed in a pair of airstrikes near a coastal road on Sunday, including one on a group of people coming out of a mosque after morning prayers. Two more fatalities were registered when a motorcycle following a car evacuating the wounded from the strikes was targeted.

The U.N. estimates that more than 17,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair since the war began on July 8. In some of the attacks, family homes with three or four floors were pulverised.

Since the fighting began, Israel has launched some 5,000 airstrikes at Gaza, while Gaza militants have fired close to 4,000 rockets and mortars, according to the Israeli military.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, including close to 500 children, have been killed, according to Palestinian health officials and U.N. figures. Israel has lost 64 soldiers and four civilians.

Israel says it is targeting sites linked to militants, including rocket launchers, command centers and weapons depots. The U.N. says about three-fourths of the Palestinians killed have been civilians.


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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 10:23:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/israeli-airstrike-levels-7storey-building-in-gaza/article6346695.ece

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