Israel Strikes Several Gaza Targets As Redeployments Begin Fighting continues amid signs Israel is starting to scale back ground operation.
NPR logo Israel Strikes Several Gaza Targets As Redeployments Begin

Israel Strikes Several Gaza Targets As Redeployments Begin

Israel struck several targets in Gaza on Sunday as ground troops began a gradual redeployment in some locations along the border area, a day after the government signaled it would scale back its 27-day-old offensive.

Israel had earlier said that a soldier it had feared captured by Hamas militants was instead killed alongside two other soldiers Friday near the southern town of Rafah in an ambush that shattered a cease-fire and ignited heavy shelling, leaving dozens of Palestinians dead.

On Sunday artillery shells slammed into two high-rise office buildings in downtown Gaza City and large explosions could be heard seconds apart, police and witnesses said. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said 30 Palestinians were killed Sunday, including nine in a single strike in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel said it carried out 180 strikes Sunday.

While fighting continued, several Israeli tanks and other vehicles were seen leaving Gaza. In a televised address late Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested troops would reassess operations after completing the demolition of Hamas military tunnels under the border. Security officials said the tunnel mission was winding down.

At the same time, Netanyahu warned the territory's Hamas rulers that they would pay an "intolerable price" if militants continued to fire rockets at Israel and that all options remain on the table.

In nearly four weeks of fighting, more than 1,700 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed as well as nearly 70 Israelis, almost all soldiers.

The Israeli military death toll rose to 64 after Israel announced that Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old infantry lieutenant feared captured in Gaza, was actually killed in battle. His funeral is later Sunday. Three civilians have been killed on the Israeli side since hostilities began.

Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until Israel and Egypt lift their blockade of Gaza, imposed after the Islamic militant group overran the territory in 2007.

Large swaths of Gaza have been destroyed and some 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the war began on July 8.