Aug. 6 (UPI) — Israeli jets again pounded the Gaza Strip on Saturday, flattening multiple residential buildings and killing more Palestinians in its second day of airstrikes.
Preliminary reports estimate as many as 15 people have been killed, including a 5-year-old girl, and another 125 Palestinians injured. Israel has reported no deaths and two injured soldiers, as well as three civilians “lightly injured” by debris.
In a pre-emptive attack, Israel demolished a residential building in Gaza with a deadly air raid on Friday, saying it had intelligence of a possible attack by pro-liberation forces.
“Warned us? They warned us with rockets, and we fled without taking anything,” Huda Shamallakh, who lived in the building, told Al-Jazeera.
The Israeli military said its attacks targeted weapons storage facilities located “in the residences of terrorist operatives in the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip,” the New York Times reported.
In response, rockets fired from Gaza injured one civilian and two soldiers.
Tensions had been simmering since Monday when Israel arrested Bassem Saadi, who heads the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Israeli officials said they had “concrete threats” of a possible attack by the group when they bombed the residential building believed to be the home of an Islamic Jihad commander Friday, The Times of Israel reported.
“Israel isn’t interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in televised remarks Friday.
Officials say more than 200 rockets have been fired into southern and central Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.
One person was “lightly” injured on Friday. Two others were “lightly injured from debris,” the Post reported.
This is the bloodiest escalation in the conflict over Israel’s siege of Palestinian territory in more than a year, since a brutal 11-day war that killed 230 Palestinians and 12 Israelis in May 2021.
Lynn Hastings, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator of the Palestinian territory, called for a cease-fire to “avoid more deaths and injuries of civilians.”
“Fuel for the Gaza Power Plant is due to run out today; electricity has already been cut,” Hastings said in a statement. “The continued operation of basic service facilities such as hospitals, schools, warehouses, and designated shelters for internally displaced persons is essential and now at risk.”
The U.N. official described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as “already dire and can only worsen with this most recent escalation.”
“Movement and access of humanitarian personnel, for critical medical cases, and for essential goods, including food and fuel into Gaza, must not be impeded so that humanitarian needs can be met,” Hastings added.