Palestinian death toll rises as Gaza-Israel conflict escalates

Palestinians gathering around the remains of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, yesterday. Israel killed Palestinian militant Baha Abu al-Ata and his wife Asma on Tuesday, prompting barrages of rocke
Palestinians gathering around the remains of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov 13, 2019. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GAZA CITY • Exchanges of fire triggered by Israel's targeted killing of a top militant in Gaza raged for a second day yesterday and showed little sign of easing, with 22 Palestinians killed.

Fresh rocket barrages were fired at Israel, which responded with strikes on what it said were Islamic Jihad militant sites and rocket-launching squads in the Gaza Strip.

Air raid sirens wailed and fireballs exploded as air defence missiles intercepted rockets, sending Israelis rushing to bomb shelters.

In Gaza, residents surveyed the damage and mourned the dead outside a mortuary and at funerals.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday said Islamic Jihad must stop its rocket attacks or "absorb more and more blows".

He reiterated his warning that "this could take time" and said Israel would respond to attacks "without mercy".

Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Barayem said the group was not interested in mediation for now as it responded to the killing of one of its commanders.

Israel killed senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al Ata and his wife Asma in a targeted strike on Tuesday, prompting barrages of rocket fire in revenge and retaliatory Israeli air strikes.

A total of 22 Palestinians have been killed, including Ata and his wife, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

Islamic Jihad confirmed that the dead included other members of its armed wing.

Since Israel's killing of Ata in what was said to be a drone strike, at least 220 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza and dozens have been intercepted by air defences, according to the army.

Israeli medics said they treated 48 people with light wounds, while schools were closed in areas near the Gaza border for a second day running.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2019, with the headline 'Palestinian death toll rises as Gaza-Israel conflict escalates'. Print Edition | Subscribe