Israeli strikes kill 2 in Gaza
A picture taken on August 24, 2014 shows the rubble of an 12-storey apartment building that collaped the day before after it was hit by missiles during an Israeli air strike in the heart of Gaza City. [AFP]
Two Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes overnight Sunday and dozens more wounded as Israeli bombardment on the Gaza Strip continued for the 48th day, while rockets fired from Lebanon and Syria into Israel threatened to escalate the conflict.
The airstrikes early Sunday on Gaza brought the total death total in Israel's massive assault to 2,105 with more than 10,500 injured, as the United Nations said that more than 460,000 Palestinians were still displaced and living in shelters across the densely packed coastal enclave.
Witnesses said that Israeli aircraft targeted a group of people near the Fayrouz Towers in northwestern Gaza City, killing two and injuring 10.
Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra identified the two casualties as Badr Hashim Abu Mnih and Yahya Abu al-Omareen, both in their twenties. They were taken to al-Shifa Hospital.
Israeli aircraft also struck the largest commercial center in the southern city of Rafah, completely leveling a building with dozens of shops, two weeks after an office in the same building was hit.
In western Gaza City, an Israeli airstrike hit the home of the al-Ghulayni family. No injuries were reported in the first strike, but a second strike that occurred soon after left six injured after it struck a crowd that gathered to survey the damage.
An Israeli airstrike also targeted a house in the al-Barka neighborhood of Deir al-Balah without warning, leaving a number injured, in addition to a home in the al-Maghazi refugee camp which was also destroyed. Another Palestinian was injured after an Israeli airstrike hit the Beit Lahiya sports club.
Israeli aircraft also launched dozens of air strikes on agricultural lands and open areas in different regions of the Gaza Strip.
Early Sunday, meanwhile, the Israeli military said five rockets from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, causing no reported injuries.
The military said a few hours earlier that a rocket fired from Lebanon struck the Upper Galilee causing damage to a structure, with a security source telling AFP it hit a Druze village.
No group took responsibility for what appeared to be a show of support for Hamas, in an act similar to rocket launches from Lebanon last month.
There was no immediate Israeli response but a Lebanese security source said Israeli helicopters were seen over the border area.
The Israeli military said that around 100 rockets were also fired from Gaza into Israel Saturday, causing no reported injuries.
Abbas meets Sisi
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas continued meetings on Saturday in Cairo to push for a lasting truce with Israel.
"What interests us now is putting a stop to the bloodshed," he said after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
"As soon as a ceasefire goes into effect, the two sides can sit down and discuss their demands."
Abbas's meeting with Sisi came after he held two rounds of talks in Qatar on Thursday and Friday with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, whose Islamist movement is the de facto ruler of Gaza.
Egypt's foreign ministry issued a statement calling on "concerned parties to accept a ceasefire of unlimited duration and to resume indirect negotiations in Cairo."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP that "any proposal offered to the movement will be discussed."
Indirect ceasefire negotiations between Israel and a Palestinian delegation have failed to make any progress despite weeks of diplomacy.
The Palestinian team has demanded consistently that any long-term truce include an end to an eight-year siege that has crippled Gaza's economy, in addition to the re-opening of a closed airport and seaport among other things.
The demands are consistent with the terms of the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s, but which Israel has failed to abide by amid its refusal to consider direct negotiations of any kind with Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group.
Israeli authorities have said that they would be willing to extend the ceasefire indefinitely but previously stressed that a long-term agreement should include the demilitarization of the Strip.
The Palestinian team has scoffed at this demand, saying that it was Palestinian fighters who prevented the full-scale infiltration and re-occupation of Gaza by Israeli forces in recent weeks.