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Egypt starts mediating an end to Israel-Gaza strikes, rockets

2023-05-11T00:08:17Z

Rockets exploded over Gaza and Israel skylines on Wednesday (May 10) night, as Palestinian militants launched hundreds of rockets across the border, setting off sirens as far away as Tel Aviv.

Israel hit Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza for a second day on Wednesday and Palestinian militants launched hundreds of rockets across the border, setting off sirens as far away as Tel Aviv, while Egypt began efforts to mediate an end to the fighting.

The second round of cross-border fire in a week came after Israel launched strikes on Tuesday against three Islamic Jihad commanders it said had planned attacks against Israelis, following months of escalating violence.

Cairo, which has mediated in previous rounds of fighting, had begun brokerering a ceasefire, Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawoud Shehab said.

Israel was examining Egypt’s proposals, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told public broadcaster Kan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks that Islamic Jihad had sustained a serious blow, but cautioned: “The campaign is not over yet.”

The Israeli military said it hit more than 130 targets, including rocket-launching sites, as blasts sounded across the Palestinian enclave.

At least three people were killed in a late-night bombing of a building in the southern Gaza area of Khan Younis, medical officials said. The target appeared to have been a senior Islamic Jihad militant, a source in the armed group said, but the identities of those killed were not immediately confirmed.

Minutes after Wednesday’s air-strikes began, sirens sounded in Israel – mostly among border communities but soon also in and around the commercial capital Tel Aviv, 60 km (37 miles) north of Gaza.

More than 400 rockets were fired, Netanyahu said, a quarter of which fell short in Gaza.

The joint command of Gaza’s militant groups, which includes Islamic Jihad and the enclave’s Hamas rulers, claimed responsibility for the salvoes.

However Israeli military officials said they had seen no signs that Hamas, which is believed to have hundreds of rockets in its arsenal, had fired any missiles itself.

They said Israeli strikes were directed only at targets linked to the smaller Islamic Jihad group, an Iranian-backed militant organization based in Gaza which has been increasingly active in the occupied West Bank for the past year.

In total 24 Palestinians, including at least five women and five children, as well as three senior Islamic Jihad commanders and four gunmen have been killed since fighting began, Palestinian health officials said.

Among the fatalities on Wednesday was a 10-year-old girl, although the circumstances of her death were unclear.

The militant groups said the rocket salvoes were a retaliation for the Israeli strikes, which it described as “a savage and treacherous bombardment of civilian houses that led to several innocent martyrs.”

Multiple trails could be seen ascending over Gaza as rockets were launched. Mid-air explosions signalled interceptions by Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system and there were no reports of casualties in Israel.

Last week, Islamic Jihad fired more than 100 rockets across the border and Israeli jets hit targets in Gaza in an hours-long exchange following the death of an Islamic Jihad hunger striker in Israeli custody.

Even before Wednesday’s rocket barrage began, as many as 30% of residents of Israeli border communities had been evacuated as a precaution, municipal head Gadi Yarkoni told Kan radio.

In Gaza, businesses and schools remained closed, Israel kept its two commercial and people crossings with Gaza closed. The move would stop the entry of goods, fuel and humanitarian aid as well as patients, who receive treatment in hospitals in the West Bank and Israel.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian gunmen who the military said had opened fire on them in the West Bank. Islamic Jihad claimed the men as members.

Related Galleries:

Security and rescue personnel work at the site where a rocket fired from Gaza has landed in Ashkelon, Israel May 10, 2023 REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Police officers work to retrieve a rocket, fired from Gaza, that landed near a home in Sderot, Israel May 10, 2023, REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel, in Gaza May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Rockets are fired from Gaza into Israel, in Gaza May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor missile as rockets are fired from Gaza, in Sderot, Israel, May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, Israel May 10, 2023 REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor missile as rockets are fired from Gaza, in Sderot, Israel, May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ammar Awad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor missile as rockets are fired from Gaza, in Ashkelon, Israel May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, Israel May 10, 2023 REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Smoke rises following an Israeli strike, in Gaza May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot

Smoke rises following an Israeli strike, in Gaza?May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinians inspect a house damaged in an Israeli strike, in Gaza May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Militants stand during the funeral of two Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen who were killed in an Israeli raid, in Jenin refugee camp, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB Mourners carry the body of one of the two Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen who were killed in an Israeli raid, during their funeral, in Jenin refugee camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

People stand near the site where two Palestinian Islamic Jihad gunmen were killed in an Israeli raid in Qabatiya, near Jenin, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 10, 2023. REUTERS/ Raneen Sawafta


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