GAZA CITY - An Israeli air strike killed a mother and four children from the same family in northern Gaza on Sunday, medics said, on the 48th day of a bloody conflict.
The strike hit a home near Jabalia in the north of the Palestinian territory, emergency spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, as Sunday’s death toll in Gaza reached at least 14.
Earlier strikes in the day killed a one-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, Qudra said. The conflict, which erupted on July 8 when Israel launched its operation against the besieged coastal territory, has claimed more than 2,100 Palestinian lives and those of 68 Israelis, four of them civilians.
Moreover, Israeli air strikes pounded Gaza Sunday, killing at least a dozen people, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the bloody offensive would continue as long as necessary.
Israel and Hamas, who have been fighting for 48 days, looked unlikely to end their deadly face-off even after Egypt called for an indefinite ceasefire and new truce talks to end a war that has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 68 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
On of Sunday’s air strikes killed Hamas financial official Mohammed al-Ghul as he was travelling by car in Gaza City, Israel’s army said in a statement. Gaza medics confirmed the death.
A later strike on northern Gaza killed a mother and three children from the same family, medics said, bringing the day’s death toll to at least 12.
Israel’s offensive began with the stated aim of stamping out rocket attacks from Gaza and was later expanded to include the destruction of Hamas tunnels used for cross-border attacks inside Israel.
“Operation Protective Edge will continue until its aims are achieved... it may take time,” Netanyahu said of the offensive launched on July 8.
Israel on Sunday carried out 27 strikes while 50 rockets were fired from Gaza, 47 of which hit the Jewish state, an army spokeswoman said. One rocket caused damage to a house but no one was injured, the army said.
The Israeli ambulance service said that three people were wounded by Palestinian fire at the Erez crossing point between Israel and Gaza, at least one of them seriously. Police identified the injured as Arab public transport drivers waiting in the crossing’s car park.
At a special cabinet session at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu repeated his warning of harsh retribution for the death of a four-year-old Israeli child on Friday in a rocket strike on a kibbutz near the Gaza border. “Hamas is paying, and will continue to pay, a heavy price for the crimes it carries out,” he said. “I call on residents of Gaza to immediately leave any structure from which Hamas carries out terror activity against us. All such sites are a target for us.”
Netanyahu also added a veiled warning to neighbouring Lebanon and Syria after overnight rocket fire into Israel.
“There is not and will not be any immunity for anyone who fires at Israeli citizens, and that is true for every sector and every border,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, five rockets fired from Syrian-controlled territory slammed into the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights but caused no casualties, the Israeli army said.
Late Saturday, a rocket fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel, causing damage but no casualties. Israel has so far not responded to either attack.
In a statement on Saturday, the Egyptian foreign ministry urged “concerned parties” in the Gaza conflict to accept an open-ended truce and resume indirect negotiations in Cairo. But there was still no sign of either side adopting the ceasefire.
Since a previous round of frantic Egyptian diplomacy collapsed on Tuesday, shattering nine days of calm, nearly 100 Palestinians and the Israeli boy have been killed in the violence.
Previous ceasefires with fixed timeframes have failed to give Egyptian mediators shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams enough time to broker a deal acceptable to both.
Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist de facto ruler, says any truce must provide for a lifting of Israel’s crippling eight-year blockade of the territory and the opening of a seaport and airport.
The invitation to new truce talks came after a meeting on Saturday between Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. “What interests us now is putting a stop to the bloodshed,” Abbas said.
“As soon as a ceasefire goes into effect, the two sides can sit down and discuss their demands,” he said, adding that, as in previous rounds of talks, Hamas would be represented in the Palestinian delegation.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP that “any proposal offered to the movement will be discussed”.
At least 2,111 Palestinians and 68 people on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers, have been killed since July 8.
The United Nations says 70 percent of the Palestinian victims were civilians, and that among the dead were 478 children. Around 460,000 people have fled their homes in Gaza - more than a quarter of the enclave’s 1.8 million population.