Palestinian death toll from Israeli strikes reaches 103
Gaza, May 14 (IANS): The death toll of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip increased to 103, as violent clashes between the two sides continued unabated.
The victims included 27 children and 11 women, while 580 others have been wounded by the Israeli airstrikes and artillery shellings on the Palestinian coastal enclave since Monday, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
On Thursday evening, the armed wing of Hamas, known as al-Qassam Brigades, and other less-influential militant groups fired barrages of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, reports Xinhua news agency.
Witnesses said the Israeli military has intensified its air and ground strikes in the town of Beit Hanoun and the Jabalia area in northern Gaza, leaving at least 11 Palestinians killed and dozens of others wounded.
The al-Qassam Brigades said its militants had fired more than 1,700 rockets at northern, central and southern Israeli towns since Monday.
Meanwhile, an Israeli military spokesman said troops had struck 750 different targets in the Gaza Strip since the fighting began on Monday.
The targets included 33 underground tunnels, 160 embedded rocket launchers, four high-rise buildings, and 60 terrorist operatives.
Senior Hamas officials were also targeted by Israeli air raids, according to the spokesman.
On Thursday night, Abu Obeida, spokesman of the al-Qassam Brigades, said that its militants launched a barrage of 90 rockets at once at the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon.
“Firing the 90 rockets was in response to the enemy’s targeting of safe civilian homes and the killing of children and women in the afternoon in northern and southern Gaza Strip,” Obeida said.
The tension between Israel and Gaza militants threatens to further escalate as the Israeli government is reportedly drafting a plan for a possible large-scale ground offensive in Gaza, similar to the one waged in 2014.
Obeida said that his group had warned Israel against carrying out any ground military operation in the Gaza Strip.
“In light of the enemy is threatening to wage a ground military operation, we say any ground incursion into any area in the Gaza Strip will be an opportunity to increase our harvest of the enemy’s dead bodies and prisoners (captives).
“We are ready to teach the enemy harsh lessons with the support of God,” the spokesman added.
The latest wave of violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians, the worst since 2014, was sparked by an Israeli plan to evict some Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.