Volume. 12234

New Israeli attacks push Gaza death toll past 1,900
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Gaza99(20).jpgIsrael on Saturday appeared eager to continue its relentless U.S.-backed terror campaign against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least five people in bombings that targeted homes, mosques and other civilian targets, medics said.
At least three people were pulled from the rubble of Al-Qassam Mosque in the central Gaza town of Nusseirat, health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra wrote on Twitter, while another two Palestinians were killed while riding on a motorcycle in the same area.
Two other mosques were bombed overnight in Gaza, one in the Zeitoun area and one in Jabalia in the north, the Palestinian interior ministry said.
Saturday's attacks pushed the Palestinian death toll in 33 days of assault against Gaza to 1,901, the overwhelming majority of them civilians. Nearly 10,000 others have been wounded.
Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have died in the fighting that began on July 8, after a surge in Palestinian rocket salvoes into Israel.
Israel said it bombed at least 30 sites in Gaza Saturday morning, and Palestinian fighters hit back by firing a number of rockets at Israeli terror sites in a second day of violence after a three-day truce between warring parties expired.
On Friday, five people including a 12-year-old boy were killed in Israeli bombings across Gaza.
Only the minaret was left standing at the huge Al-Qassam mosque bombed Saturday, an AFP photographer said.
"We heard a loud explosion and it was the beginning of the explosions and a warning to residents to evacuate the area to stay away," said Jood Irhaem, who lives close to one of the mosques.
"Minutes later there were two strong explosions."
Egypt, helped by American and European mediators, has made no visible progress toward resuming a 72-hour cease-fire that halted the fighting between Israel and Gaza fighters that began on July 8, but was expected to pursue these efforts again Saturday.
The cease-fire expired Friday with the sides still far apart on the terms for renewing the deal and each side blaming the other for refusing to extend it.
In Cairo, the foreign ministry called for a resumption of the cease-fire, saying only a few points remained to be agreed.
Egypt mediates the talks but is meeting separately with each party. Israel and Hamas deny each other's legitimacy.
The White House urged Israel and the Palestinians to do what they could to preserve civilians after having failed to extend their cease-fire. Spokesman John Earnest said on Friday "the United States is very concerned" about the renewed violence.
"We condemn the renewed rocket fire and we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides of the conflict," Earnest said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a similar statement urging the parties "not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza."
Israel has shown little interest in easing its naval blockade of Gaza and controls on overland traffic and airspace.
In the occupied West bank, two Palestinian men were shot dead by Israeli soldiers during protests in Hebron and near the illegal Jewish settlement of Psagot, medics said.
The United Nations says at least 1,354 of the more than 1,900 Palestinians killed since July 8 were civilians, including 447 children.
Many Palestinians who had gone home during the ceasefire have returned to schools. Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said 222,000 people are sheltering in 89 UN schools.

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