CAIRO, August 20 (Itar-Tass) —— At least fifteen Palestinians have fallen victim to Israeli attacks over the past 24 hours, the Palestinian news agency Maan has said. More than 40 others were injured.
The Israeli Air Force began intensive bombardments of the coastal enclave on Thursday night after a series of terrorist attacks on southern Israel that killed eight Israelis. The Israeli authorities said at once that behind that daring raid there were Palestinian militants from Gaza, who had infiltrated through Egyptian territory.
The first retaliatory strike liquidated the commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees – the an-Nasser Salah ad-Din Brigades – Kamal Nayrab. Four of his close associates and a nine-year-old child were killed, too. On Friday, air raids against Gaza killed seven of its residents, among them, a five-year-old boy, two members of the armed wing of the group Islamic Jihad and a militant of the an Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades. Strikes were dealt at Hamas facilities.
In the wake of the rapid deterioration of the situation in the enclave the head of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Gaza “to stop the Israeli attacks and the dangerous escalation of violence on its part.” As his assistant Saeb Erekat said on Saturday, Palestine’s Permanent Observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, had received appropriate instructions to prepare for an emergency session.
Meanwhile, the Hamas leadership announced withdrawal from the informal truce that lasted nearly two and a half years. The leaders of the Islamic movement have already urged the military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades to retaliate.
“The armistice with the enemy no longer exists,” runs a communique issued by the Islamists.
In late 2008 Israel began a massive operation in the coastal enclave with the aim of eliminating the military infrastructure of militant groups, in the first place, Hamas, which lasted more than three weeks. In Gaza there were killed more than 1,500 people and several thousand others were injured. On January 18, 2009 Hamas and other Palestinian factions declared a ceasefire with Israel, which the day before unilaterally announced the completion of the operation.
Since then, fragile truce has been maintained. It was repeatedly violated by the parties, but until just recently they had managed to prevent sporadic incidents from escalating into a wider conflict.