Fighting between Israel and militant groups in the blockaded Gaza Strip has entered a third day despite ceasefire efforts brokered by Egypt, in the worst bout of violence in the region in months that has left 25 people in Gaza dead, including at least 10 civilians, and wounded 76.
The latest conflagration began in the early hours of Tuesday, when Israel launched surprise airstrikes targeting the homes of three senior commanders in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second most powerful group in the strip after Hamas, despite a fragile ceasefire in place since a day of cross-frontier fire last week.
Ceasefire talks that began on Wednesday evening appear to have stalled. Muhammad al-Hindi, an Islamic Jihad official, said the factions in Gaza would stop firing if they received an Israeli commitment to ending targeted killing operations, which has so far been refused.
In the early hours of Thursday, an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) airstrike in Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip targeting a residential building killed another senior official, Ali Hassan Muhammad Ghali, the head of Islamic Jihad’s rocket programme.
The 2.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and Israelis in the south of the country, have been left fearing wider escalation as the exchange of fire continues and the toll of dead and injured grows.