18 killed in Gaza before truce; toll 162

November 22, 2012 - 6:20:49 am

Palestinians celebrate the beginning of the truce with Israel in Gaza City, yesterday.

GAZA CITY: Seven Palestinians were killed in new Israeli raids on central and southern Gaza yesterday, raising the day’s toll to 18 just as Egypt announced a ceasefire deal. “A child, Nader Abu Maghseeb, was martyred and an elderly person was injured in a new raid east of Deir Al Balah,” the Hamas health ministry said.

The death was announced shortly after Egypt said a ceasefire would take effect at 1900 GMT yesterday, in a bid to stem eight days of violence in and around Gaza.

Earlier, the health ministry said six Palestinians had been killed in two air strikes, including two people on a motorbike in the southern town of Rafah, and four people in a house in Nusseirat in the central Gaza Strip.

Those killed yesterday also included a child who died when the tower housing AFP’s office was struck for the second time within 24 hours.

The victim, two-year-old Abdul Rahman Majdi Naeem, was in the neighbouring block when an Israeli missile slammed into the seventh floor of the Naama building in Gaza City, health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al Qudra said.

Correspondents who arrived at the scene shortly after the strike said there appeared to be little damage to the rest of the building, which is located in Gaza City’s upscale Rimal neighbourhood.

A photographer saw relatives carrying the barefoot toddler out of the building directly behind and he was taken by ambulance to Shifa hospital, where a doctor pronounced him dead.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the strike, the second to hit the building in 24 hours.

Shortly afterwards, another air strike on Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza killed a four-year-old girl and wounded her mother, the emergency services said.

Six people were killed in other strikes on Gaza City, one person in a raid on the Jabalia refugee camp and an 80-year-old man and his teenager granddaughter in a raid on the southern city of Khan Yunis.

Yesterday’s bloodshed raised to 162 the total number of Palestinians killed in a week of relentless Israeli air strikes which began at 1400 GMT on Wednesday, November 14, the health ministry said, indicating that more than 1,100 people have also been injured. Five Israelis were also killed in the conflict.

The agreement came after a day of shuttle diplomacy - led by Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - which was marred by more deadly cross-border violence between Israel and militants in Gaza.

Hopes for a truce appeared to have been faint just hours earlier as a blast tore through a bus in Tel Aviv and Israel hit back with deadly air raids on Gaza City and elsewhere in the coastal Palestinian territory.

The conflict had threatened to take a new turn when the bomb struck the commuter bus in Israel’s commercial capital, injuring 17 people and sparking panic. The blast occurred very close to the Israeli defence ministry and was quickly denounced by Netanyahu’s spokesman, who tweeted: “This was a terrorist attack”.

The windows of the bus were blown out and its seats contorted from the force of the explosion, in scenes reminiscent of the second Palestinian intifada.

The blast struck as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was holding talks with Netanyahu in Jerusalem over ways to end a deadly spike in bloodshed in and around Gaza during the past week.

A spokesman for Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency services said that of the 17 injured, one person was in moderate to serious condition while three others were in moderate condition. 

Condemnation poured in, with Washington branding it “outrageous,” Moscow denouncing it as a “criminal,” and France and Germany calling for an urgent and lasting ceasefire in Gaza.Agencies