*** ----> Southern Gaza hit as Israeli spy chief holds new talks | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Southern Gaza hit as Israeli spy chief holds new talks

AFP | Washington                                      

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Israeli air strikes targeted homes in southern Gaza, witnesses said yesterday, adding to what aid groups describe as an increasingly hopeless humanitarian situation despite efforts towards new truce talks.

An Israeli delegation led by David Barnea, head of the Mossad intelligence agency, has arrived in Paris in efforts to “unblock” truce discussions in the war with Hamas.

His trip follows what the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said was the death of more than 100 people over the previous day.

Israeli bombardment destroyed one house and left a gaping hole in the earth east of Rafah, on the border with Egypt, where about 1.4 million Gazans have converged in a futile search to escape the fighting.

“We were sleeping in our house when we heard the sound of a missile,” said Abdul Hamid Abu el-Enein.

“We rushed to the site and found people martyred and injured” in the strike which “completely erased” the two-storey home.

Witnesses reported several other houses targeted during the night, and an AFP reporter described heavy strikes in the city of Khan Yunis to the north, as well as in Rafah itself.

Israel has threatened to send troops into the packed southern city of Rafah, drawing international criticism.

The military said fighting, including with drone strikes and sniper fire, continued in the western Khan Yunis area.

More than four months of fighting and bombardment have flattened much of Gaza and pushed its population of around 2.4 million to the brink of famine as disease spreads, according to the United Nations.

“We have reached the point of extreme poverty and hunger,” 62-year-old Zarifa Hamad, a displaced woman living in a camp in northern Gaza told AFP. “Children are dying of hunger.

The elderly are dying of hunger, diabetes, blood pressure... everybody is suffering.” “We have started to eat grass.” Israel’s relentless bombardment since has killed at least 29,514 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by Gaza’s health ministry.

The toll has seen pressure grow on the administration of US President Joe Biden to rein in its ally Israel -- which it provides with billions of dollars in military aid.

Brett McGurk, White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, held talks this week with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, after meeting with other mediators in Cairo.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh was in the Egyptian capital for truce talks earlier in the week, the group said.

A Hamas source said the new plan proposes a six-week pause in the conflict and the release of between 200 and 300 Palestinian prisoners, in exchange for 35 to 40 hostages still held by Hamas.