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Several children, commander killed in Israeli attack on Gaza

A senior commander of a Palestinian armed group and six children have been killed in the Gaza Strip as Israeli jets continued their bombing of the besieged enclave. In a statement on Sunday, Islamic Jihad confirmed that Khaled Mansour, its commander in the south of the Gaza Strip, had been killed in an Israeli raid on Saturday.

Mansour is the second high-ranking member of Islamic Jihad to be killed since Israel began attacking Gaza on Friday, when it assassinated the group’s commander in the north, Taysir al-Jabari. Israel has warned that its campaign against Islamic Jihad could last a week, and its attacks on Gaza have destroyed apartment buildings and struck refugee camps.

At least four children were killed in a blast close to the Jabaliya refugee camp on Saturday, according to Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip. It blamed Israel for the deaths, but the military denied any responsibility, saying the explosion was caused by a failed rocket launched by Islamic Jihad.

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The latest deaths bring the tally of children killed since Friday to six, and the total death toll among Palestinians to 31. More than 260 people have also been wounded, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Palestinian fighters have responded to the bombings by launching more than 400 rockets at Israel. Most of the rockets were intercepted, and there have been no reports of serious casualties, according to the Israeli ambulance service. The violence has raised fears of another war on Gaza by Israel, just 15 months after a monthlong conflict that killed more than 260 people.

“The last war caused widespread devastation here in the Gaza Strip. A year later, there has been almost no reconstruction,” Al Jazeera’s Youmna ElSayed said, reporting from Gaza City. “This isolated coastal territory is impoverished, its people are barely recovering. And many fear another round of escalation.”

“This is an appeal to extend a helping hand to the ministry of health in Gaza Strip right now. There’s a shortage of electricity. It’s been declared now that it will only be four hours a day. This means we will rely in the hospitals on generators. Generators consume half a million litres every month. We do not have this fuel right now.” Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Cairo is talking “around the clock” with both sides to ease the violence.

An Egyptian intelligence delegation headed by Major General Ahmed Abdelkhali arrived in Israel on Saturday and would be travelling to Gaza for mediation talks, two Egyptian security sources told the Reuters news agency. They were hoping to secure a day’s ceasefire in order to carry out the talks, the sources added.

“Intensive efforts have been made this evening and the movement listened to the mediators, but these efforts haven’t reached an agreement yet,” an Islamic Jihad official told Reuters late on Saturday.

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