GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories, Aug 22, (Agencies): Hamas gunmen executed 18 people accused of collaborating with Israel in Gaza City Friday as Palestinian mortar fire killed a four-year-old Israeli boy on Day 46 of a devastating war. The escalating bloodshed has seen another 76 Palestinians die in Gaza since hostilities resumed on Tuesday following a nine-day truce and another four Israeli civilians wounded by dozens of rocket attacks.
European governments are now seeking UN action to find a durable ceasefire after Egyptian diplomacy failed to end the worst fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since a 2000-2005 intifada. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed harsh retribution against Hamas for the killing of the child and his government has vowed no let up until it can guarantee the safety of civilians. Hamas also has vowed no let up until Israel ends an eight-year blockade on the narrow and over-populated Palestinian coastal enclave it controls.
At least 2,092 Palestinians have been killed since July 8, of whom the United Nations has identified 70 percent as civilians, and 68 people have died on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers. In broad daylight outside Gaza’s largest mosque, a day after Israel assassinated three of the movement’s senior commanders, Hamas gunmen grabbed six men as worshippers came out onto the street at the end of Friday prayers, witnesses told AFP.
They were pushed to the ground. One of the masked men shouted: “This is the final moment of the Zionist enemy collaborators,” then the gunmen sprayed them with bullets. Earlier, another witness saw 11 people shot dead in a square near the remains of Gaza police headquarters, bombed by Israeli warplanes.
An 18th person was shot in front of bystanders in a separate incident. The Hamas-linked website Majd said the 11 were killed after they “gave information to the Zionist enemy”. In Israel, the barrage of Palestinian rocket attacks claimed its fourth civilian victim of the entire war — a boy killed near a kindergarten in the southern community of Sdot Negev.
Police said the boy was four years old, making him the first Israeli child killed by Palestinian rockets since July 8. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for this attack,” Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman quoted the premier as saying on his Twitter account. The army and Shin Bet internal security would “intensify ops against Hamas until the goal of #ProtectiveEdge is achieved,” he added. Israel said it struck more than 30 targets in Gaza since midnight as over 70 rocket and mortar rounds hit Israel during the same period. Another nine rockets were shot down, an army spokeswoman said. Five Palestinians were killed Friday in Israeli air strikes on the Nusseirat refugee camp and the central town of Deir al- Balah, three of them men aged 22, 24 and 45.
With Egyptian efforts to end the Gaza war collapsing, the United States, Britain, France and Germany are discussing a possible Security Council resolution calling for a sustainable cease-fire and an international monitoring mission to ensure its implementation, UN diplomats said Thursday. Diplomats said the US, Israel’s main ally, had joined the European effort to produce a resolution that would call for a ceasefire and advance the goal of a durable peace. “This is not a competition,” said an American diplomat in Washington. “We share with other Security Council members a concern over the return to hostilities following the breach of the Egyptianbrokered humanitarian ceasefire.
And the council has called on all parties to prevent the situation from escalating and to resume negotiations.” Another diplomat said both Israeli and Palestinian officials have privately suggested Security Council action would be helpful in persuading their constituents to accept measures to end the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side. “The message that we are getting from both sides is that it would be helpful to prescribe some elements to enable them to sell it internally,” that diplomat said.
Diplomats said the resolution would include opening up Gaza’s borders and a return of the Palestinian Authority to the territory, now controlled by Hamas. It would also include security assurances for the Israelis, including ways to prevent Hamas from acquiring more arms and building more tunnels. The resolution would incorporate a European Union offer to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings.