Gaza toll at 127 on day five of Israeli strikes

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GAZA CITY (AFP) – Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed 22 people Saturday, bringing to 127 the toll on the fifth day of violence, medics said.

In the latest strike, six men were killed in the Sheikh Radwan district of western Gaza City, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Aged from 21 to 58, they were sitting outside their homes in the area when the strike hit, eyewitnesses said.

Their deaths brought the toll on Saturday alone to 22, including two people killed in a strike that hit a charitable association housing the disabled in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.

Another three people were killed in eastern Gaza City, and three in an attack on the wester side of town.

Earlier, Qudra announced the deaths of eight other Palestinians, including a man who died of wounds sustained in an earlier strike, five people killed in Gaza’s northern Jabaliya and two further south in Deir el-Balah.

According to Qudra, at least 940 people have been wounded since the operation began.

Local officials said the day’s raids across the coastal enclave hit targets that included a bank, two mosques and homes of Hamas officials.

Israel’s military said at least one of the mosques was being used to store weapons.

Israel began Operation Protective Edge Tuesday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket fire by militant groups.

Gaza militants have fired approximately 525 mortar rounds and rockets that struck Israel, while another 138 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, an Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP on Saturday.

It is the deadliest violence since November 2012, with a growing number of rockets fired at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and even as far north as Haifa.

So far, no Israelis have been killed.

An Israeli soldier was severely wounded in a mortar attack Thursday, and another man very seriously injured when a rocket hit a petrol station in the southern port city of Ashdod Friday.

Two soldiers were lightly wounded along the border with Gaza when Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile.

And an elderly woman was slightly injured when a rocket hit her home in the southern city of Beersheva.

Israel has authorised the call-up of 40,000 reservist troops, and threatened a ground operation to stamp out the rocket fire.

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