Israeli air strikes target additional Gaza high-rises

Aug 26, 2014, 7:50 AM EDT
Palestinians inspect the damage to the Italian Complex following several late night Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Israel bombed more of Gaza's tallest structures on Tuesday, bringing down a 13-storey apartment and office tower and destroying most of a 16-floor residential building after warning occupants to get out. Reuters writes:

The Israeli military, declining to comment specifically on the attacks that flattened the Basha Tower and wrecked the Italian Complex, said it attacked 15 "terror sites", including some in buildings that housed Hamas command and control centers.

Hamas, the dominant militant group in the Gaza Strip, accused Israel of an "unprecedented act of revenge against civilians" aimed at deterring Palestinians from supporting the Islamist movement.

A Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, said Egypt had proposed a new ceasefire and was waiting for Israel to respond, after a five-day truce and indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks in Cairo on a durable Gaza agreement collapsed a week ago.

Locked in a seven-week-old war and vowing to end rocket fire from the enclave, Israel has now attacked three of Gaza's most prominent high-rise buildings since Saturday, when it destroyed the 13-storey Al Zafer Tower. No fatalities were reported in those bombings, which were preceded by non-explosive warning missiles that sent residents fleeing.

Twenty people were wounded in the attack on the Italian Complex building, and two others were killed in Israeli strikes elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, medical officials said.

Meanwhile, Time reports that hopes for a lasting truce are rising as the Gaza conflict drags on:

Israeli and Palestinian media outlets were abuzz with reports Monday that the various factions involved in the Israel-Hamas conflict were close to agreeing on a cease-fire deal following renewed efforts by Egypt and Saudi Arabia to help negotiate a truce.

Either way, the possibility of reaching a cease-fire with a longer shelf life seemed to increase the likelihood of the sides reaching a cease-fire that would also be the prelude to a return to peace talks.

Israel and Hamas have very different visions about how the conflict should end — which makes it challenging to reach an agreement satisfactory to all sides. “The dilemma is that Israel is not willing to talk before reaching a cease-fire, while there is still shooting going on, and the Palestinian factions insist that they want achievements in exchange for agreeing to a cease-fire,” says Ghassan Khatib, a veteran Palestinian political analyst and the vice president of Birzeit University in the West Bank.