Deadly Israeli shelling hits Gaza, as truce talks to resume

AFP , Sunday 26 May 2024

Israel's occupation forces bombarded Gaza on Sunday, but officials also said diplomatic efforts were expected to resume in the coming days towards a truce and captive release deal.

A man carries a girl injured in Israeli strikes on Bureij, at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, May 2024.AFP


Air strikes and artillery shelling rained down again overnight on the northern, central and southern areas of Gaza in the more than seven-month-old war.

Gaza's civil defence agency said Sunday it had retrieved six bodies after a house was targeted in a strike on Rafah's eastern Khirbet al-Adas neighbourhood.

Witnesses said Israeli artillery had also targeted central Rafah's Yibna camp, and that heavy artillery shelling hit the city's Sooq al-Halal and Qishta neighbourhoods.

Elsewhere in Gaza, Israeli air strikes targeted the Nuseirat camp, and witnesses said heavy artillery shelling hit northern Gaza.

Israeli tanks in Gaza City rained heavy gunfire on targets in the Zeitun and Netzarim area, an AFP reporter said.

US President Joe Biden said Saturday his administration was engaged in "urgent diplomacy to secure an immediate ceasefire that brings hostages home".

Mediator Egypt was also continuing "its efforts to reactivate ceasefire negotiations", Egyptian Al-Qahera News said.

Israeli media has said intelligence chief David Barnea had agreed a new framework for talks on a ceasefire in a meeting with America's CIA chief and Qatari mediators in Paris.

An Israeli official, requesting anonymity, told AFP on Saturday that "there is an intention to renew these talks this week".

​However, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan told Qatar's Al Jazeera network that so far "there is nothing practical on this issue. It is just talk coming from the Israeli side."

An Israeli senior official said the war cabinet was expected to meet Sunday to discuss a captive release deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under increasing domestic pressure over the fate of the captives, with demonstrators rallying again in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

Hamas meanwhile said Saturday it had taken "prisoner" at least one Israeli soldier in an ambush in Jabalia camp.

The announcement was denied by the army, which said there was "no incident in which a soldier was captured".


 Global pushback 

As the bloodiest-ever Gaza war grinds on, Israel has faced heavy global pushback over the surging civilian death toll and the destruction of vast swathes of Gaza.

In the past week, it faced landmark moves from two international courts based in The Hague and from three European governments.

Last Monday, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants on war crimes charges against Netanyahu and his defence minister.

On Wednesday, Ireland, Norway and Spain said they would recognise Palestinian statehood by May 28, a move Israel angrily rejected as a "reward for terrorism".

And on Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive, demanded the release of hostages and urged the "unhindered provision" of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The ICJ ruling came in a case brought by South Africa alleging that Israel's military operation amounts to "genocide".

It ruled that Israel must "immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part".

Israel has denied any military operations in the Rafah area that "could cause the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population, in whole or in part".

Israel has killed at least 35,984 peoplein the territory during more than seven months of war.

The toll includes at least 81 deaths over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said Sunday, adding that 80,643 people have been wounded in the Gaza Strip since the war began.

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