Israel pounds Gaza with 50 air strikes as mediators try to rescue truce

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 August, 2014, 10:17pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 6:24am


Israeli warplanes pummelled Gaza with 50 air strikes that killed five Palestinians yesterday as militants slammed 23 rockets into Israel, defying international efforts to find a fresh ceasefire.

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through central London and Cape Town, condemning Israel's one-month military assault on 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Gaza emergency services said five men were killed in Israeli raids - two travelling by motorcycle through Al-Maghazi refugee camp and three pulled from the rubble of Al-Qassam mosque in the middle of the enclave.

The Palestinian interior ministry said Israeli jets destroyed three mosques. Two were considered close to Hamas.

Resident Ibrahim Taweel said the Israeli military telephoned him at 3am, warning him to evacuate his home five minutes before the mosque was attacked. "I couldn't tell all my neighbours, so I evacuated myself and my neighbour and after five minutes an F-16 fired one rocket and after that a bigger rocket destroyed the mosque," he said.

The army said 23 rockets rained on Israel, bringing to 61 the number of projectiles launched at the Jewish state since a 72-hour truce ended on Friday.

One Israeli civilian and a soldier were wounded on Friday.

Israel said it had carried out more than 100 strikes in Gaza since Friday, 49 since midnight.

In the occupied West Bank, fresh clashes broke out after the funerals of two Palestinian men shot dead by Israeli troops on Friday. Palestinian youths threw stones and Israeli troops responded with stun grenades.

The 72-hour truce collapsed after mediators in Cairo failed to extend a ceasefire as Israel accused Hamas of pre-dawn attacks.

The conflict has now killed at least 1,911 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side, almost all soldiers, since July 8.

The UN says at least 1,354 of the Palestinian dead were civilians, including 447 children.

In London, up to 150,000 protesters packed Oxford Street, marching to the US embassy and on to Hyde Park, many holding up banners saying "UK - Stop Arming Israel".

Tens of thousands of demonstrators also marched through Cape Town to protest the Israeli military operation, one of the biggest rallies in the city since the end of apartheid.

In Gaza, Hamas vowed no concessions.