Middle East

Gaza air strikes 'kill five' as rockets hit Israel

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Media captionJames Reynolds reports from a hospital in Gaza on the resumption of violence

Five people have been killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza, health officials there say, as Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets at Israel.

Violence resumed after the end of a three-day ceasefire on Friday.

Tensions have also been growing in the West Bank where protesters have clashed with Israeli troops. Reports say two Palestinians have been shot dead, one on Friday and one on Saturday.

At least 1,960 people have died since violence erupted in Gaza in early July.

More than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed, according to the UN.

Sixty-seven people have died on the Israeli side, including three civilians.

Israel said it renewed its military offensive soon after the truce lapsed in response to rocket fire by the Hamas militant group, which dominates Gaza.

Mosque attacked

On Saturday, the bodies of three Palestinians were pulled from the wreckage of a mosque in Gaza, local officials said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Three people are reported to have died when an Israeli strike hit a mosque in Gaza on Saturday
Image copyright AP
Image caption Israel says Palestinian militants have fired at least 70 rockets since the truce lapsed
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian protesters at the Bek Forik checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday

Two more people died when their motorcycle was bombed, the authorities added.

There have also been two major explosions in the Gaza Harbour area. A BBC correspondent says one of the blasts is believed to have targeted a Hamas training facility.

The Israeli military said on Twitter earlier it had struck 33 sites in Gaza on Saturday, while six rockets had hit southern Israel.

They said more than 70 rockets have been fired from Gaza since the end of the ceasefire.

The military operation has also caused tensions in the West Bank, the territory governed until recently by the Fatah movement before they announced a unity government with Hamas.

A Palestinian man died of a bullet wound during a confrontation with Israeli soldiers in the city of Hebron, health officials said on Saturday.

Earlier, Israeli military officials confirmed that troops had killed a Palestinian man on Friday at a protest near a Jewish settlement outside the town of Ramallah.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Palestinians try to salvage books in a badly-hit mosque amid ongoing air strikes in Gaza City on Saturday
Image copyright AP
Image caption Israeli families were forced to flee their homes on Friday as a rocket hit the southern city of Sderot

Britain, France and Germany on Saturday issued a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The US and the United Nations earlier issued a similar call.

The fighting resumed after Israeli and Palestinian representatives failed to agree a long-term truce at indirect talks in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Hamas said Israel had failed to meet its key demands, including the lifting of the Gazan blockade and the release of prisoners. It also rejected Israel's call for the demilitarisation of Gaza.

Meanwhile Israeli officials said they would not "negotiate under fire".

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from militants in Gaza and destroying the network of tunnels it said were used by militants to launch attacks inside Israel.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gaza's sole power plant was shut down after being damaged in an air strike on 29 July

The strikes have damaged large parts of Gaza, including the only electricity plant, which was knocked out by shelling on 29 July.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that the plant's shutdown has worsened the humanitarian crisis for Gaza's 1.7 million residents.

"It has drastically curtailed the pumping of water to households and the treatment of sewage," HRW, a New York-based group, said on Saturday.

The group said hospitals are increasingly relying on generators, and the supply of food is under threat because refrigerators and bakeries have no power.

Israel said its forces hit the station by accident.

Human cost of the conflict

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A father mourns for his 10-year-old son - the first person to be killed after hostilities resumed on Friday

Palestinian deaths

  • 1,922 killed, including at least 1,407 civilians
  • 448 children
  • 235 women

Israeli deaths

  • 64 soldiers
  • 2 civilians
  • 1 Thai national in Israel

(Source: OCHA; 0500 GMT on 8 August)