GAZA CITY/JERUSALEM - At least eight children were among 10 people killed at a Gaza City refugee camp, medics said, with witnesses saying several missiles were fired from an F16.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said 10 people had been killed, among them eight children who had been playing in the beachfront Shati refugee camp.
He said another 46 were injured, among them many children.
Local residents told AFP that several missiles were fired at a tuktuk motorised rickshaw near a children’s playground.
“An F16 fired five rockets at a street in Shati camp where children were playing, killing some of them and injuring many more,” one told AFP.
Inside Shifa hospital, an AFP correspondent saw the bodies of at least seven children from the blast at the camp, with more bodies being brought in on bloodied stretchers.
They were unloaded and taken directly to the mortuary, he said.
Near the site of the blast, women wailed and men screamed in anguish in scenes of utter confusion and distress.
Shortly before the blast, another missile hit a building inside the Shifa hospital compound, causing damage but no injuries, medics and an AFP correspondent said.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said a wall of a building inside the compound was damaged by a missile apparently fired by a drone.
Fighting earlier briefly subsided in war-torn Gaza until the camp explosions, as world powers ramped up pressure on the warring sides to immediately end their 21-day confrontation.
US President Barack Obama during the night phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to demand an “immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire”, in a call echoed several hours later by the UN Security Council. As diplomatic efforts intensified to broker an end to the bloodletting which has claimed over a thousand lives, both sides appeared to have settled into an undeclared ceasefire arrangement with the skies over Gaza calm for a second night running.
The Army said only one rocket had struck Israel since midnight, hitting the southern port city of Ashkelon, while in Gaza, an AFP correspondent confirmed there had been no Israeli air strikes during the night. Military spokesman General Moti Almoz described the overnight calm as “an unlimited lull” but warned that the Army was ready to resume its activity at any time.
Shortly afterwards, two Palestinians, including four-year-old Samih Ijneid, were killed when Israeli tanks opened fire near the northern town of Jabaliya, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
Three other Palestinians succumbed to their injuries during the night, raising the overall death toll in Gaza to 1,037.
Israeli warplanes also fired on targets in Gaza City as well as in northern and central Gaza, but nobody was reported injured.
There was little mood for celebration in Gaza City as the three-day festival of Eid ul Fitr that ends the holy fasting month of Ramazan got under way.
Several hundred men, women and children arrived for early-morning prayers at the Al-Omari mosque, bowing and solemnly whispering their worship.
But instead going to relatives houses to feast, most went straight home while some went to cemeteries to pay their respects to the dead. Among them was Ahed Shamali whose 16-year-old son who was killed by a tank shell several days ago. “He was just a kid,” he said, standing by the grave. “This is the Eid of the martyrs.”
“After the destruction and war we’ve seen here, there’s no Eid for us now,” said a 44-year-old man who gave his name only as Issa.
Meanwhile in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, some 45,000 worshippers rallied in support of war-torn Gaza as they gathered for the Eid prayers, police and an AFP correspondent said. “Our blood for Gaza,” they chanted, many of them wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with logos reading: “Gaza, supporting you is our Eid” and “We are all Gaza.”
Several hours earlier, the UN Security Council appealed for both sides to accept an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” to permit the urgent delivery of aid, in a non-binding statement which elicited disappointment from the Palestinian envoy.
The UN statement came after Obama phoned Netanyahu to stress “the strategic imperative” of implementing an immediate humanitarian truce.
The diplomatic pressure increased after both Israel and Hamas had observed a 12-hour lull on Saturday. Although Israel initially responded to an international demand to extend the ceasefire, holding its fire for another 14 hours, Hamas snubbed the call and continued firing rockets over the border, one of which killed a soldier.
Several hours after Israel resumed its operations, Hamas made a belated call for a 24-hour ceasefire which never materialised.
But overnight, calm appeared to have been restored with both sides apparently respecting an unspoken lull, although there was no formal announcement to that effect.
Meanwhile,the UN Security Council agreed on a statement on Sunday urging Israel, Palestinians and Islamist Hamas militants to implement a humanitarian truce beyond the Muslim holiday of Eid ul Fitr and engage in efforts to achieve a durable ceasefire.
The statement expresses strong support for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed assistance” in Gaza, where Israeli troops and Hamas have been fighting for nearly three weeks.
The Security Council statement, drafted by Jordan, “urged all parties to accept and fully implement the humanitarian ceasefire into the Eid period and beyond” and “calls on parties to engage in efforts to achieve a durable and fully respected ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative.”