By Sara Gomez Armas
Jerusalem/Gaza, May 11 (EFE).- The possibility that Israel and Palestinian militias will soon agree to suspend hostilities that have claimed more than two-dozen lives this week appeared to recede Thursday as Israeli warplanes carried out new strikes in Gaza and militiamen continued to launch rockets at Israel.
The health ministry in the coastal strip said that four women and six children are among the 28 people killed in Gaza since Tuesday, when the Israelis launched an offensive against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Eight-six other residents of Gaza have been wounded.
While Thursday brought the first Israeli casualties of the current flare-up, as a rocket fired from Gaza struck an apartment building in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv, killing one person and injuring five others, according to Israel’s medical service.
That attack followed the funeral of Ali Ghali, head of the PIJ rocket force, who was killed early Thursday along with two family members in an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) airstrike on Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.
The IDF said that Ghali’s deputy, Ahmed Abu Daqqa, died Thursday afternoon in a subsequent strike.
Some 200 PIJ targets have been hit since Tuesday, including five senior officers, barracks, tunnels, and rocket factories, the IDF said.
Palestinian militias have launched more than 600 projectiles from Gaza during the last two days and nearly a third of them were intercepted by Israeli missile defenses, IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said.
He said that 25 percent of the PIJ rockets have fallen on Gaza and that four children died as “as a result of failed rocket launches by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.”
“Once again Israel tries to escape its responsibility for the killing of civilians through fabrications and lies,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawoud Shehab said, dismissing Hagari’s statement as “completely incorrect.”
Hagari confirmed that the Egyptian government has been in touch with the parties in pursuit of a cease-fire, but cautioned that any truce is likely days away, as Israel is unwilling to forgo additional “targeted killings” of PIJ commanders.
He said that the IDF will not target Hamas, the much larger Palestinian militant group that controls the government in Gaza, as long as it does not intervene in defense of PIJ.
Thousands of Gaza residents stood on rooftops Thursday night to cheer the launch of another volley of rockets toward Israel.
Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, on Thursday ordered the IDF to prepare “a series of additional operations” against Gaza, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also indicated that strikes will continue.
“As I have said, whoever harms us will pay the price, as will his replacement. We are in the midst of a campaign, on both offense and defense,” Netanyahu said Thursday during a visit to a military installation.
The roughly 2 million residents of Gaza have been subject since 2007 to an Israeli land, sea, and air blockade and United Nations describe conditions in the strip as a humanitarian disaster.