*** ----> Israeli air strike kills 45 Palestinians in Gaza | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Israeli air strike kills 45 Palestinians in Gaza

Agencies | Jerusalem                                  

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

An Israeli military airstrike on a residential building in the densely populated Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza killed at least 45 people and wounded dozens of others yesterday.

The airstrike hit the centre of the Jabalia camp in the late afternoon, according to Eyad Bozum, a spokesperson for the Gaza Interior Ministry. The building was packed with dozens of people, some of whom had fled earlier attacks, Bozum added.

The death toll is expected to rise as civil defence workers continue to search for bodies in the rubble. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Palestinians also have “legitimate aspirations” but also vowed US support for Israel in its war with Hamas.

The attack killed 1,200 people in Israel while Hamas took about 150 hostages in their surprise onslaught from Gaza Saturday. Israel has retaliated by raining air and artillery strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza for six days, claiming over 1,350 lives.

Israel has deployed forces, tanks and other military hardware to the Gaza border, AFP journalists said, as it prepared for a possible ground invasion of the Palestinian territory after what has been labelled Israel’s 9/11. Israeli fighter jets and drones flew above Gaza City in the relentless bombardment that has levelled entire blocks and destroyed thousands of buildings, while Hamas had now fired more than 5,000 rockets at Israel from Gaza, the army said.

Blinken hinted at the need for an eventual peace settlement -- an idea that has long met resistance from the right-wing Netanyahu. He said Palestinian people have “their legitimate aspirations to live with equal measures of security, freedom, justice, opportunity and dignity” Israeli army spokesman Richard Hecht said the military was readying for a potential order to launch a ground invasion in the war with Hamas: “This has not been decided yet... but we are preparing for a ground manoeuvre if it is decided.”

“Right now we are focused on taking out their senior leadership,” he said. Fears have grown for Gaza’s 2.4 million people now enduring the fifth war in 15 years in the long-blockaded coastal enclave, which has also seen Israel cut off water, food and power supplies.

Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz vowed the total siege of Gaza would remain in force until the hostages are freed. “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electric switch will be turned on, no water tap will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home,” he said.

Gaza’s hospitals “risk turning into morgues”, said the International Committee of the Red Cross Middle East chief Fabrizio Carboni, stressing “the human misery caused by this escalation is abhorrent”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced concern about the “supercharged cycle of violence and horror”, urged the release of all hostages and the lifting of the siege, and stressed that “civilians must be protected at all times”.

There have been calls for a humanitarian corridor to allow Palestinians to escape ahead of a possible Israeli ground invasion that would spell brutal urban combat and house-to-house fighting. If Israel does send ground forces into Gaza, it risks walking into a Hamas “trap”, warned a former head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service, Alex Younger, speaking on BBC radio.