Gaza Parish priest: fighting paralyses life, chances of a truce fade
After a lull of a few hours, rocket attacks from the Strip resumed this morning. The Jerusalem region was also targeted. Israel responded with fresh airstrikes, putting on hold ceasefire talks in Cairo. At least 30 Palestinians are dead and 90 wounded; one Israeli is killed in Rehovot.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Sirens sounded again late this morning in Israel as more rockets streamed over from the Gaza Strip. Israel responded again with airstrikes against targets in the Palestinian territory. The exchange broke the relative calm that had prevailed overnight.
"Life has been paralysed in Gaza and the whole area,” said Father Gabriel Romanelli, speaking to AsiaNews.
With violence growing and the spiral of violence showing no sign of abating, “Many are just left waiting for a truce, a pause,” explained the Argentine clergyman, a member of the Incarnate Word, who serves as the parish priest at the Holy Family parish church in Gaza.
“Yesterday we experienced particularly strong exchanges, which then stopped. Some thought it was a truce, others said no way. The fact remains that we live in limbo, waiting for developments, with life put on hold, schools closed.”
Palestinian sources reported new attacks near Rafah, in southern Gaza, but no casualties or injuries have been reported.
Israeli responded with airstrikes after more than 15 rockets were launched from Gaza into southern Israel, after a pause of almost 13 hours that led to speculation that the military escalation might be on pause if not an actual ceasefire.
After the rockets crossed into Israel, sirens sounded in the Jewish settlements near Gush Etzion in the West Bank, Beit Shemesh near Jerusalem and towns near the border with the Strip.
In the current round of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad (so far Hamas, which governs Gaza, has remained silent), this is the first time that rockets have been launched against Beit Shemesh and the settlements of Elazar, Efrat, Neveh Daniel, Rosh Tzurim, Alon Shvut and Bat Ayin.
"We are fine and going on with our lives as much as possible,” Fr Romanelli said. Religious services are celebrated, “like the rosary, that we broadcast via the Internet so that more faithful can follow.”
“Now I am going to bring communion to the elderly and the sick, then we will continue with the apostolate by phone, calling our parishioners one by one to know how they are doing, if they need anything, from food to practical help. We hope that all this can end soon, but who knows.”
Meanwhile, Egypt is busy trying to negotiate a truce hoping for constructive talks with the parties. To this end, Muhammed al-Hindi, head of Islamic Jihad’s political department, is in Cairo. "We hope to reach an honourable agreement that reflects the interests of our people and the resistance," he told AFP.
Following the latest rocket fire from Gaza, a senior diplomatic source said Israel has broken off talks and pledged a “significant” response. “And if we need to escalate, we’ll do it,” the source added.
Sources at the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza report at least 30 deaths, including children, and five senior Islamic Jihad officials, and 90 injured by the escalation of violence that broke out on Tuesday.
In Israel, the Iron Dome missile defence system failed to stop every rocket out of the almost 900 fired in recent days; those that made it through fell on residential areas, killing one person, a resident of Rehovot, a city south of Tel Aviv.