Gaza toll hits 25 as bloodshed rages for fourth day

Israeli military confirms raid,saying it targeted terrorist cell that was preparing to fire rockets.

Written by Agencies | Gaza City | Published: March 13, 2012 2:21:01 pm

Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza for a fourth day,killing six more Palestinians,as a teenager died in a mystery blast,raising the death toll so far to 25.

Hamas officials said yesterday that efforts mediated by Egypt to restore a ceasefire were continuing,but denied any breakthrough.

Israeli and Palestinian sources reported four air strikes on yesterday evening,which Palestinian medics said left two people dead.

Islamic Jihad named Bassam al-Ajla and Mohammed Dahir as its members,and the Israeli military confirmed the raid,saying it targeted a “terrorist cell that was preparing to fire rockets”.

The army also reported two more evening raids,one targeting “two rocket-launching sites” in northern Gaza and another against a “tunnel used by terrorists” under the border with Egypt.

And Palestinian sources reported a fourth strike in Beit Lahiya,in northern Gaza. There were no reports of injuries.

In a statement,Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya said efforts by Egypt to broker a ceasefire were continuing,but Hamas sources said no truce deal had yet been reached.

“Efforts are continuing to protect our people,even though the road to restore the calm is difficult because of the continuing aggression,but we expect these efforts to succeed,” Haniya said.

The violence continued throughout yesterday,with an Israeli air strike on the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza strip killing 65-year-old Mohamed Mustafa al-Hasumi and his 35-year-old daughter Faiza,medics said,describing both as civilians.

The Israeli military said the strike targeted “a terrorist squad”. It said the raid may have caused “the apparent injury to uninvolved persons”,but described the incident as “a blatant example of how terror organisations use human shields to carry out terror attacks”.

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