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Israel pummels Gaza Strip as it struggles to battle pandemic

Israeli armed forces claimed that the aerial assault was a response for missiles being fired into the south of the country

ISRAEL pummelled the besieged Gaza Strip on Saturday, its bombs targeting a number of locations in the Palestinian territory, which is struggling to deal with a deadly outbreak of coronavirus.

Warplanes fired missiles which struck areas north-west of Gaza City and east of the town of Jabalya.

Artillery shells also hit a spot east of the city, causing damage to infrastructure. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli armed forces claimed that the aerial assault was a response for missiles being fired into the south of the country, the stock response used to justify such an attack.

None of the Palestinian resistance factions claimed responsibility for the alleged rocket attack on Israel.

In a further operation, the Israeli navy opened fire on a Palestinian fisherman off the coast of Gaza City.

The Palestinian fishing industry has suffered huge losses as fishermen are frequently  targeted by Israeli gunboats and are denied access to the sea.

Gaza has been subjected to a cruel 12-year blockade by Israel. Half of the Palestinian territory’s population of two million — confined to a space of just 365 square kilometres — live in poverty, 97 per cent of water is undrinkable and its health system is in crisis.

Medics have warned of an impending catastrophe after Covid-19 was reported in the Gaza Strip last week.

And rights group B’Tselem has warned of “a massive disaster, resulting entirely” from conditions created by the Israeli blockade.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Hussein Sheikh said that a campaign was under way for the urgent dispatch of testing kits amid a shortage in the occupied territories.

Palestine Liberation Organisation spokeswoman Hanan Ashwari thanked China and Cuba for their support and role in leading the global efforts against the Covid-19 outbreak.

“From Palestine, from our little corner of the world, we reach out to the rest of the world in solidarity, in friendship and compassion and human empathy.

“We know what all these things meant to us in times of adversity in an ongoing tragedy, and we know that this is the only way we can all join together in order to defeat this horrible affliction, the coronavirus pandemic, that has caught us all unaware,” she said.

She “reached out” to health workers who have put their lives at risk to help others and thanked those countries, including China and Cuba, that have helped other countries less fortunate.

“We know that so long as we maintain this sense of empathy and compassion that humanity will prevail, no matter how difficult the times are right now. We will prevail if we stay human and we will stay safe. Thank you,” she said.

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