A five-year-old boy was killed yesterday morning in an Israeli airstrike on the northern Gaza Strip, as Palestinian sources reported the deaths of 17 people in the morning in assaults on a café and a home.
Reports from Gaza indicated widespread damage to houses, infrastructure and public buildings, with large numbers of civilian casualties. A Hamas activist ridiculed Israeli claims that Hamas infrastructure was being targeted, noting the high number of buildings containing families and civilians that had been hit.
By the afternoon, the Palestinian Health Ministry put the death toll in Gaza at 81 people — among them 22 children, 15 women and 12 elderly people — since Operation Protective Edge began on Tuesday. Another 537 people have been injured.
Like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Palestinians in Gaza are not talking about calming the situation. Spokesmen for different armed organizations in the Strip are vowing to continue their fight “to the end.”
Senior Egyptian officials told Haaretz that conditions for mediation “were not ripe.” They said Egypt already tried to achieve some compromise and calm last week, before IDF attacks began in earnest, but these efforts failed. The sources added that despite the high bar for a cease-fire set yesterday by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, the Egyptians are trying to reach a settlement similar to the one that ended Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan for intervention yesterday, as he has with various world leaders.
Meanwhile, Egypt partially opened the Rafah border crossing to allow the evacuation of some of Gaza’s injured into Egypt, according to the Al Ahram daily, quoting the Palestinian embassy in Cairo. The report stated that Egyptian authorities did this as an exceptional measure, to enable the wounded to receive treatment at Egyptian hospitals.
The Interior Ministry in Gaza reported that the Palestinian side of the Erez border crossing had been hit by the Israel Air Force. The IDF confirmed a strike close to the crossing, but said passage through it was not affected.