(Page 4 of 4)
The bodies were wrapped in Palestinian and Hamas flags. Echoes of explosions mixed with cries of grief and defiant chants of “God is greatest!”.
Those deaths drew more international calls for an end to hostilities and could test Western support for an offensive that Israel billed as self-defence after years of cross-border rocket attacks.
Israel said it was investigating the strike that brought the home crashing down on the al-Dalu family, where the dead spanned four generations. Some Israeli newspapers said the house might have been targeted by mistake.
In scenes recalling Israel’s 2008-2009 winter invasion of the coastal enclave, tanks, artillery and infantry have massed in field encampments along the sandy, fenced-off border.
Israel has also authorised the call-up of 75,000 military reservists, so far mobilising around half that number.
The Gaza fighting adds to worries of world powers watching an already combustible region, where several Arab autocrats have been toppled in popular revolts in the past two years and a civil war in Syria threatens to spread beyond its borders.
In the absence of any prospect of permanent peace between Israel and Islamist factions such as Hamas, mediated deals for each to hold fire unilaterally have been the only formula for stemming bloodshed in the past.
Hamas and other groups in Gaza are sworn enemies of the Jewish state, which they refuse to recognise and seek to eradicate, claiming all Israeli territory as rightfully theirs.
Hamas won legislative elections in the Palestinian Territories in 2006. A year later, after the collapse of a unity government under President Mahmoud Abbas, it seized Gaza in a brief civil war with Abbas’s forces.