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Gaza: Eight children and two women from same family killed by Israeli air strike

New victims raise death toll of Gaza bombardment to at least 139 civilians, including 39 children and 22 women
Palestinians take part in the funeral of the Abu Hatab family in Gaza City on 15 May, 2021, a family of 10 who were killed in an Israeli air strike on the western Gaza Strip (AFP)

Israel intensified its onslaught on the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Saturday, killing at least 10 members of the Palestinian Abu Hatab family, including eight children and two women, in an attack on a refugee camp, as it also targeted residential areas across the besieged enclave.

Hamas retaliated by firing rockets into Israel, as their battle entered a fifth night. The Israeli military said a rocket hit a fuel reservoir in the coastal city of Ashdod, causing a huge explosion, in the second such attack on an oil tank in the port. No injuries were reported. Air raid warning sirens blared in southern Israel early on Saturday.

The air strike hit the overcrowded al-Shati refugee camp without early warning, leaving at least 20 people wounded, with the death toll expected to rise, health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra said.

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Rescue teams continue searching for victims under the rubbles of the four-storey house, where several families lived.

Israel's overnight air raids targeted residential buildings in several areas Gaza, local media reported

The Palestinian religious affairs ministry said Israeli planes destroyed the Qalibu mosque.

Earlier in the evening, air strikes on the northern Gaza Strip killed three Palestinians - two brothers from al-Munsi family and a man from the Sabah family - Palestinians news website Arab48 quoted medical sources. 

At least 139 people have been killed in Israeli bombardments on Gaza since Monday, including at least 39 children and 22 women, and at least 1,000 others wounded, Palestinian medical officials said.

Early on Saturday, the Israeli army said it had hit a Hamas "operation office" near the centre of Gaza City and "underground launch sites" in late night strikes.

Egyptian hospitals on alert

Egyptian government officials told Middle East Eye on Friday that hospitals in Egypt's North Sinai governorate, on the border with Gaza, and Ismailia, near the Suez Canal, have started preparing to receive victims of Israeli attacks.

Hospitals and medical professionals in Gaza have been struggling to cope with the rising number of casualties.

The General Authority for Healthcare, an executive arm of the Egyptian Ministry of Health, said the wounded were expected to soon arrive in Egypt. The authority's head, Ahmed al-Sobki, said three major health facilities in Ismailia were ready to receive Gaza's victims.

Medical teams from different universities, including in Cairo, have already left to North Sinai and Ismailia to assist in responding to the needs of the Palestinians. The Egyptian Doctors Syndicate said that so far 86 doctors have submitted applications to travel to the border region to help deal with the expected influx of casualties.

West Bank unrest

Israeli forces continued all day Friday to violently crack down on protests throughout Israel, East Jerusalem and occupied West Bank.

In the West Bank, 11 Palestinians were shot dead in separate attacks by Israeli forces and settlers on Friday. Most of the victims were killed either while taking part in protests or while confronting settlers who were harassing Palestinians. 

The Palestinian health ministry said more than 150 had been wounded in the West Bank and appealed for blood donations.

Israeli settlers, according to local media, also used live ammunition against Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, where the fate of four families threatened with forced displacement from their homes has fuelled the anger of Palestinians.

A video posted on Twitter appeared to show Jewish ultra-nationalists firing at Palestinians who were throwing rocks and fireworks at them.

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On Friday evening, Israeli forces carried out rounds of arrests and intimidation of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. Police patrolled the neighbourhood, with units stationed in different areas. Earlier in the day, the police used "skunk water," a foul-smelling liquid concoction that can cause nausea, to stop people from gathering in groups.

Israeli forces also attacked journalists covering confrontations in the West Bank. Middle East Eye's correspondent Shatha Hammad reported late on Friday that four photojournalists  - Hisham Abu Shakra, Mutasim Saqf al-Heit, Issam Al-Rimawi, and Ramiz Awad - had been hit by steel bullets.

Palestinians have been protesting over the past week, in solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah residents and the attacks and restrictions by Israeli forces on al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

The unrest has escalated in the course of the week into violent confrontations between Palestinian citizens of Israel and far-right Jewish Israelis in different mixed cities in Israel.

In the Israeli city of Jaffa, far-right Israelis firebombed a Palestinian home in the Ajami neighbourhood, wounding two children, on Friday evening. The siblings, a 10-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, respectively sustained a head injury and upper-body burns, according to Haaretz

Solidarity

Dozens of protesters gathered at Lebanon's southern border with Israel in support of Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli army responded by firing into the area, killing a 21-year-old Lebanese man, Mohammed Tahhan.

Footage on social media appeared to show dozens of Lebanese protesters storming border fences with Israel on Friday afternoon. It was unclear if the protesters entered Israeli territory or sustained any injuries.

On Israel's border with Jordan, meanwhile, hundreds of protesters tried to reach the Allenby Bridge, which leads to the West Bank, but were met by Jordanian riot police who fired teargas and shots in the air to disperse the crowd.