Conflicts & War

Israel rejects truce, kills another high-ranking Palestinian militant

By Sara Gomez Armas

Jerusalem/Gaza, May 12 (EFE).- Israel on Friday abandoned discussions about a possible cease-fire with Palestinian militants and responded to a new volley of rockets from Gaza with fresh airstrikes, killing another senior member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Iyad al-Hassani, identified as PIJ’s head of operations, died in an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attack on an ostensible “command center” inside a residential building in Gaza City.

The strike brought to 33 the number of people killed in Gaza since the start early Tuesday of the IDF’s “Operation Shield and Arrow,” Gaza’s health ministry said.

At least 15 of the fatalities were civilians, including six children, according to the ministry, while more than 100 other people have been injured.

One Israeli has died as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel pulled back Friday from the truce talks mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations, having already expressed unwillingness to meet the chief demand of the Palestinians: an end to what the IDF calls “targeted killings” of militants.

The PIJ, meanwhile, said that it was prepared to go on launching rockets into Israel.

“If the Israeli escalation continues, we will not stop before the Flags March,” the PIJ said in a statement, referring to the annual parade by Israeli rightists to celebrate the “reunification” of Jerusalem following Israel’s occupation of mainly Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The procession takes place on 28 Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, which corresponds this year to May 19.

Friday, for the first time in the current fighting, PIJ launched rockets at Jerusalem.

“The launching towards Jerusalem is a message, and everyone should understand its purpose. Jerusalem is in front of our eyes, and what is happening there is not separate from Gaza,” the group said.

The IDF said that as of 1300 GMT Friday, it had struck 254 PIJ targets, including fighters’ homes, launch sites, tunnels, arms factories, and warehouses as part of Shield and Arrow.

Al-Hassani is the ninth senior member of the PIJ to be killed this week.

More than 970 rockets have been launched toward Israel from Gaza, over the last three days, according to the IDF, of which 761 entered Israeli territory.

The IDF said that its Iron Dome air defense system intercepted 296 rockets.

So far, Israel has limited the offensive to the PIJ, but analysts say that if the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to grow, Hamas – the much larger Palestinian organization that controls the strip – will be forced to become involved militarily, sparking a wider conflict.

The roughly 2 million residents of Gaza have been subject since 2007 to an Israeli land, sea, and air blockade and United Nations officials describe conditions in the territory as a humanitarian disaster. EFE sga/dr

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