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No sign of a ceasefire as Israel attacks Palestinian refugee camp killing eight children

© Shutterstock FeedMourners react next to bodies of Palestinians who were killed amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, during their funeral at the Beach refugee camp, in Gaza City.
Mourners react next to bodies of Palestinians who were killed amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, during their funeral at the Beach refugee camp, in Gaza City.

An Israeli air raid on a Palestinian refugee camp killed at least 10 people, including eight children, yesterday.

The attack, the deadliest single strike in the current conflict, came as the Israeli military continued its battle with militant group Hamas.

Hours later another Israeli air strike brought down a 12-storey office building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets.

There was no immediate explanation for why the building was attacked, nearly an hour after the military ordered people to evacuate it. Yesterday both sides pressed for an advantage as ceasefire efforts gathered strength. The latest outburst of violence began in Jerusalem and has spread across the region, with Jewish-Arab clashes and rioting in mixed cities of Israel.

There were also widespread Palestinian protests on Friday in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces shot and killed 11 people.

The spiralling violence has raised fears of a new Palestinian “intifada”, or uprising, at a time when there have been no peace talks in years. Palestinians were yesterday marking Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when they commemorate the estimated 700,000 people who were expelled from or fled their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. That raised the possibility of even more unrest.

US diplomat Hady Amr arrived on Friday as part of Washington’s efforts to de-escalate the conflict, and the UN Security Council is set to meet on Sunday.

Israel has turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian official revealed.

Since Monday night, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, which has responded by pounding the Gaza Strip with strikes.

In Gaza, at least 139 people have been killed, including 39 children and 22 women; in Israel, eight people have been killed, including the death yesterday of a man killed by a rocket that hit Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

Earlier yesterday, an air strike hit a three-storey house in Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp, killing eight children and two women from an extended family.

Mohammed Hadidi told reporters his wife and five children had gone to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday with relatives.

She and three of the children, aged six to 14, were killed, while an 11-year-old is missing. Only his five-month-old son Omar is known to have survived.

Children’s toys and a Monopoly board game could be seen among the rubble, as well as plates of uneaten food from the holiday gathering.

“There was no warning,” said Jamal Al-Naji, a neighbour living in the same building. “You filmed people eating and then you bombed them?” he said, addressing Israel.

“Why are you confronting us? Go and confront the strong people!”

Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets at southern Israel in response to the air strike.

The tensions began in east Jerusalem earlier this month, with Palestinian protests against the Sheikh Jarrah evictions and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews.

Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, in an apparent attempt to present itself as the champion of the protesters.

During the conflict that spiralled from there, Israel said it wants to inflict as much damage as it can on Hamas’ military infrastructure in Gaza.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that Hamas will “pay a very heavy price” for its rocket attacks, as Israel masses troops at the frontier.

US president Joe Biden has expressed support for Israel while saying he hopes to bring the violence under control.