32 dead, including six children as Israel pounds Gaza

GAZA  – The death toll in Gaza had risen to 32 on Sunday, including six children, as Israel extended its bombardment of Palestine.

Palestinian authorities said the victims had been killed since Friday in Israeli strikes that also wounded 215 people.

Israel’s military said its aerial and artillery campaign against Islamic Jihad could last a week, but Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Cairo is talking “around the clock” with both sides to ease the violence.

Civilians meanwhile took refuge in air raid shelters, with AFP journalists hearing sirens warning of incoming fire in the Tel Aviv area on Saturday evening.

In Rafah, on Gaza’s border with Egypt, women and children were trapped under rubble following an Israeli strike, the strip’s civil defence unit said.

Rescue workers were digging through the site where a top Islamic Jihad commander, Khaled Mansour, was reportedly targeted by an Israeli strike on Saturday.

Daily life in the strip has come to a standstill, while the electricity distributor said the sole power station shut down due to a lack of fuel after Israel closed its border crossings.

Gaza’s health ministry said the next few hours will be “crucial and difficult”, warning it risked suspending vital services within 72 hours as a result of the lack of electricity.

– ‘We are all alone’ –

In Gaza City, resident Dounia Ismail said Palestinians have become accustomed to preparing a “survival bag” of items such as money and medicine.

“This latest escalation brings back images of fear, anxiety, and the feeling that we are all alone,” she told AFP.

– Five-year-old girl –

Islamic Jihad is aligned with Hamas, but often acts independently.

The UN humanitarian chief for the occupied Palestinian territories, Lynn Hastings, urged the warring sides to allow “fuel, food, and medical supplies” to be delivered to Gaza amid the worsening crisis.

On Friday, the health ministry reported “a five-year-old girl” was among those killed by Israeli fire.

The girl, Alaa Kaddum, had a pink bow in her hair and a wound on her forehead, as her body was carried by her father at her funeral.