Officials said 119 Palestinians, including 31 children, have been killed and eight Israelis have died since the latest violence began. Militants fired more than 200 rockets and suicide drones from the Gaza Strip towards Israel in the heaviest exchange of the conflict so far. Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted those fired from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
It comes after Israel’s navy and tanks launched a co-ordinated attack on Hamas targets, destroying homes and civilian buildings.
After the attacks, an Israeli military chief said: “Hamas’s rocket production capacity has been significantly downgraded.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday warned that Hamas leaders “cannot flee” after the major land, air and sea assault in Gaza.
Palestinians were yesterday fleeing from the north of the enclave to Gaza City to find shelter.
Terrified Palestinian families yesterday told how the destruction was “worse than a horror movie”, with one mother telling how she feared her children would die after a spark from a missile ignited a fire inside her home.
Salwa al-Attar said: “There was bombing everywhere. When we moved, there was a strike, and the planes were above us, and the tanks and navy were bombing – and we could not move.”
The long-running tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have escalated in the past weeks, with nightly clashes.
Mr Netanyahu said of Hamas: “Its senior officials think that they can flee from our strikes.
“They cannot flee. They are paying, and will pay, a very heavy price for this. This is not yet over. They attacked our capital, they fired rockets at our cities. They’re paying and will continue to pay dearly for that.”
Two mothers from both sides of the Gaza border yesterday told the Daily Express of the heartbreaking toll of the conflict, with no end in sight for the fighting.
Ronit is 51 and a mother of four, and lives in Israel near the border. Her son was diagnosed with trauma after a school bus was targeted by Hamas.
She said: “We know Hamas have no mercy, they kill anyone that oppresses them. They rule through fear and it is not good for their own people. They spend all the aid money they get on rockets or tunnels and not food or electricity that their people need.
“Only when Hamas go can we have peace.”
Palestinian mother-of-three Heba, whose name the Express has changed after her interview, said: “Every night is worse than the previous, but last night was the worst as it was the most intense fighting since the escalation started.
“As we cower inside our homes I feel at every single second we are going to be killed.”