GAZA, Gaza Strip – A new round of Israeli airstrikes and tank fire pounded Gaza on Monday as officials in the coastal strip said two more Palestinian civilians died from the violence.
There has so far been no end in sight for the war, which has already killed more than 2,100 Palestinians since the fighting erupted on July 8. On the Israeli side, 68 people have been killed, all but four of them soldiers.
The Israeli military said it carried out 16 airstrikes on Gaza early Monday, targeting a mosque it said was used to store weapons and another it said militants used as a meeting point.
The military also said that Palestinian militants from the densely populated strip fired 10 rockets into Israel on Monday, all of which landed in open areas.
Gaza police said one of the Israeli strikes hit the home of Omar al-Bursh, a Hamas justice ministry official, who was not harmed in the attack. Another airstrike severely damaged the departure lounge at Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt, police said.
A 42-year-old woman died from tank fire in the north of the Palestinian territory, while a 22-year-old man died from his wounds on Monday after being hit in an airstrike in Gaza City shortly before midnight, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said.
The latest exchanges came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Israeli military campaign in Gaza could go into September.
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.
The Gaza war stems from the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank by Hamas operatives in June, which triggered a massive Israeli arrest campaign in the West Bank, followed by an increase in rocket fire from Gaza. In an apparent revenge attack, a Palestinian youth was seized and slain in early July.
Israel first launched an air campaign July 8, then sent in ground troops nine days later. It says it is targeting sites linked to militants, including rocket launchers, command centres and weapons depots. The U.N. says about 75 per cent of the Palestinians killed have been civilians.
Several rounds of indirect talks in Cairo between Israel and a Palestinian delegation that included Hamas have collapsed, along with temporary cease-fires that accompanied them.
Speaking to his Cabinet Sunday, Netanyahu said the public must show patience. “I said on the first day of the operation that it could take time and we are prepared that this campaign might continue even after the start of the school year,” he said.
While the Israeli public has widely supported the campaign to halt rocket attacks out of Gaza, the government has come under criticism for its inability to stop the fire and anger has risen, especially following the death of 4-year-old boy who was killed in a Palestinian mortar attack Friday.
Estrin reported from Jerusalem.