Fatah, Hamas agree to unite over Gaza crisis as death toll soars
Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas said on Monday they have decided to end years of infighting in a show of solidarity over the Gaza crisis, AFP news agency reported.
“From here, we announce with other (factional) leaders, that we are ending the division,” senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub told a crowd of about 1,000 who gathered for a demonstration in Ramallah, the West Bank’s political capital.
Among those present at the rally were top members of Hamas’s leadership in the West Bank as well as senior officials from its smaller rival Islamic Jihad, the AFP correspondent said.
Ramallah’s Manara Square was a sea of Palestinian flags as the crowd chanted “Unity!” and “Hit, hit Tel Aviv” in an appeal to Hamas militants who have fired at least five rockets at the coastal city since Thursday.
“Whoever speaks about the division after today is a criminal,” top Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Ramahi told the crowd.
Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian national factions, have been locked in a bitter dispute for years.
But the ongoing bloodshed in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, where Israel was on Monday pressing a sixth day of a major aerial campaign which has so far killed 91 Palestinians, appears to have prompted a rethink of traditional rivalries.
Gaza’s Hamas-run government has long been at loggerheads with the rival Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and a unity deal struck between the two in April 2011, fell apart as the two bickered over the formation of a caretaker cabinet.
Israeli air strikes across the Gaza Strip killed 13 people early on Monday, raising the Palestinian death toll to 90 as Israel’s relentless air campaign entered its sixth day.
In the latest incident, a missile hit a motorcycle east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, killing two men and critically wounding a child who was with them, a statement by Gaza’s ambulance service said.
The two were named as Abdullah Abu Khater, 30, and Mahmud Abu Khater, 32, but the relationship between them was not immediately clear.
An earlier strike on Qarara in the same area killed two farmers -- Ibrahim al-Astal and Obama al-Astal, medics said.
In a strike on southern Gaza City, a car was hit, killing one man and injuring another three, officials said, naming him as 23-year-old Mohammed Shamalah.
Shortly before that, three people were killed in a strike on a car in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, all of them from the same family: Amir Bashir, Tamal Bashir and Salah Bashir.
Very early in the day, two women and a child were among four killed in a strike on Gaza City’s eastern Zeitun neighborhood -- Nisma Abu Zorr, 23, Mohammed Abu Zorr, 5, Saha Abu Zorr, 20 and Ahid al-Qatati 35,
And medics said another man had been found dead in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, naming him as Abdel Rahman al-Atar, a 50-year-old farmer.
The strike in Zeitun came after a night that saw Israeli war planes level a Gaza City police station as navy ships kept up sustained fire at the Gaza shore, AFP news agency correspondents said.
The deaths came after multiple raids on Sunday that killed 31, in the bloodiest day of Israel’s bombing campaign, medics said.
The number of injuries rose over 700, officials said.
At least 10 children, five of them babies and toddlers, and six women were among those killed on Sunday, in attacks that came even as diplomatic efforts intensified to broker an end to the bloodshed which began on Wednesday.
The violence has also cost the lives of three Israelis and injured more than 50, according to medical sources.
By far the deadliest strike was in northern Gaza City where a missile levelled a three-storey building, killing nine members of the Al-Dallu family -- five of them children -- and two other people, medics said.
Qudra named the dead as policeman Mohammed al-Dallu, 35, Suheila al-Dallu, 50, Samah al-Dallu, 22, and five children: Jamal and Sara, whose ages were not immediately available, five-year-old Yussef, two-year-old Ranin, and 11-month-old Ibrahim.
The body of another woman from the same family was also pulled from the rubble but her identity was not immediately clear.
The other two victims, who lived next door, were named as Amina Mattar al-Muzzana, 83, and Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzzana, 22, Qudra said.
The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the strike, only saying the air force had hit “a few targets in northern Gaza City.”
Palestinians seek urgent Arab League summit
The Palestinian Authority has asked for an urgent Arab League summit to discuss Israeli attacks on Gaza, the League said on Sunday.
The authority is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular Fatah movement was driven out of Gaza five years ago by Islamist movement Hamas which now controls the Gaza Strip.
Abbas, who is based in the West Bank, has been accused by some Palestinians of not reacting energetically enough to the Israeli air strikes against Gaza.
On Saturday, Arab foreign ministers condemned the Israeli offensive on Gaza and expressed “complete discontent” at the U.N. Security Council’s failure to bring about a ceasefire.
The Arab League was discussing with its members the Palestinian request, Egyptian state news agency MENA reported.
The head of the Arab League and a group of Arab foreign ministers will visit Gaza on Tuesday to show solidarity with Palestinians
During an emergency meeting on Saturday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki asked the Arab League for an urgent summit and for “indefinite financial support” from Arab states.
Arab ministers backed Egyptian-led efforts to mediate a truce between Palestinians and Israelis which are yet to show results.
Israel’s declared goal is to deplete Gaza arsenals and force Hamas to stop rocket fire that has bedeviled Israeli border towns for years and is now displaying greater range, putting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the crosshairs.
The Israeli military said 544 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since Wednesday, killing three civilians and wounding dozens. Some 302 were intercepted and 99 failed to reach Israel and landed inside the Gaza Strip.