Palestinian firefighters put out a fire in a car, which
witnesses said was targeted in an Israeli air strike in
Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo by Reuters
Israel launched more than 30 air attacks in Gaza, killing
seven Palestinians, and militants fired rockets at Israel as
the conflict entered a second month, defying international
efforts to revive a ceasefire.
The violence seemed to delay any progress in talks brokered
by Egypt aimed at securing a permanent truce. Israel had no
plans to send negotiators back to Cairo "as long as the
shooting goes on", an Israeli official said on condition of
Medical officials in Gaza said two Palestinians were killed
when their motorcycle was bombed and the bodies of three
others were found beneath the rubble of one of three bombed
Two Palestinians were killed in an air strike on a car in the
southern town of Rafah, Gaza medics said. An Israeli military
spokeswoman said the men targeted were Hamas militants.
Another attack reduced a security complex belonging to Gaza's
dominant Hamas faction to a huge cloud of smoke, but there
were no casualties. Elsewhere, three houses were bombed, and
fighter planes strafed open areas, officials said.
The Israeli military said that since midnight it had struck
more than 30 sites in the coastal enclave, without specifying
the targets. Gaza militants fired 28 rockets into southern
Israel on Saturday setting off sirens but causing no damage
or injuries, the military said.
Since the end of a 72-hour truce on Friday, Gaza militants
have fired more than 65 rockets at Israel, military officials
said. Two Israelis were hurt by a mortar attack on Friday.
Israeli air strikes killed five Palestinians on Friday, among
them a 10-year-old boy near a mosque in Gaza City.
Egypt, backed by American and European mediators, has made no
visible progress towards restoring the ceasefire that had
halted fighting for three days.
Egypt was expected to pursue its diplomacy on Saturday,
meeting Palestinian officials in Cairo, but it wasn't clear
how much progress could be made if Israeli representatives
didn't show up. Both sides remain apart on terms for renewing
the ceasefire, with each blaming the other for not extending
A diplomatic source familiar with the talks told Reuters it
could take at least two days to see if it was possible to
work out another truce.
A sticking point was Israel's demand for guarantees that any
reconstruction supplies sent to Gaza would not be used by
Hamas to construct more tunnels of the sort that Palestinian
fighters have used to infiltrate Israel.
"We are at a crossroads and within two or three days we will
see whether we are heading left toward an agreement, or
right, toward escalation," Israeli Intelligence Minister
Yuval Steinitz, told Channel Ten.
Egypt is meeting separately with each party. Israel and Hamas
deny each other's legitimacy, with Hamas rejecting Israel's
right to exist and Israel rejecting Hamas as a terrorist
VIOLENCE THWARTS ANTI-WAR PROTEST PLANS
Citing security concerns over continued rocket fire, Israeli
police banned an anti-war protest planned for Tel Aviv on
Saturday, saying regulations prohibited large gatherings in
areas at risk of attack.
By resuming attacks against Israel, Gaza militants appeared
to be trying to ramp up pressure and making it clear they
were ready to fight on to fulfil a goal of ending a blockade
of the territory that both Israel and Egypt have imposed.
Heavy civilian casualties and destruction during Israel's
campaign in packed residential areas of the Gaza Strip have
raised international alarm over the past month.
Gaza officials say the war has killed 1,888 Palestinians,
most of them civilians. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and
three civilians have died in the fighting that started on
July 8 following a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes into
Israel expanded its air and naval bombardment into a ground
offensive on July 17, and pulled its infantry and armour out
of the enclave on Tuesday after saying it had destroyed more
than 30 infiltration tunnels dug by militants.
The White House has urged Israel and the Palestinians to do
what they could to preserve civilians after having failed to
extend their ceasefire, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon has warned that any further fighting would
"exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian situation in
At a rally in South Africa, Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu
accused Israel of behaving like a "barbaric bully" in Gaza.
Israel said ahead of the truce's expiration on Friday it was
ready to agree to an extension. Hamas did not agree.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel had rejected most
of the group's demands. The Palestinians want Israel to agree
in principle to lift a blockade of Gaza, release prisoners
and permit the opening of a sea port.
"There is no going back and the resistance will continue ...
there is no retreat from any of our demands," Abu Zuhri said.
Israel has resisted easing access to Gaza, suspecting Hamas
could restock with weapons from abroad.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a member of Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, said the
issue of a sea port should be part of wider peace
negotiations with the Palestinians and that Hamas should not
at this time be rewarded for "using force against Israeli
In related violence, a Palestinian man died a day after being
shot by Israeli troops confronting a protest in Hebron.
Israeli gunfire had killed another Palestinian protester in
the occupied West Bank on Friday, medical officials said.