Israel continues air strikes on Gaza after Iran attack as UN chief calls for ‘maximum restraint’

GAZA: Israel launched dozens of air strikes on Gaza overnight, Hamas said Monday, as the Israeli army said it will not be distracted from the war after Iran’s unprecedented attack heightened fears of wider conflict.

“Even while under attack from Iran, we have not lost sight, not for one moment, of our critical mission in Gaza to rescue our hostages from the hands of Iran’s proxy Hamas,” Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said late Sunday.

As mediators attempt to reach a deal to halt the fighting in Gaza, fears grew over Israeli plans to send troops into Rafah, the far-southern city where the
majority of the Palestinian territory’s 2.4 million people have taken refuge. The Hamas government media office said Israeli aircraft launched “dozens” of
strikes overnight on central Gaza.
Meanwhile, Israeli army opened fire on civilians who were trying to cross to the north to reunite with family members, witnesses told. Rumours of a reopened
Israeli checkpoint on the coastal road from the besieged enclave’s south to Gaza City in the north sent thousands of Palestinians heading north over the weekend, despite Israel denying it was open.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned the international community on Sunday against deeper descent into conflict, addressing the Security
Council during a meeting over Iran’s weekend attack on Israel. “Neither the region nor the world can afford more war,” Guterres said.

“The Middle East is on the brink,” he told the Security Council. “The people of the region are confronting a real danger of a devastating full-scale conflict. Now is the time to defuse and de-escalate,” he added, calling for “maximum restraint.”
Late on Saturday, Iran launched a direct attack on its long-time arch foe Israel for the first time, firing a wave of more than 300 missiles and drones. Nearly all of them were intercepted by Israel and others, including the United States, Jordan and Britain.

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