At least six killed in Israeli airtstrike on Gaza

Smoke rises after an explosion in what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza August 20, 2014.

Smoke rises after an explosion in what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza August 20, 2014.

At least six people were killed in an overnight Israeli airstrike that hit a densely populated neighborhood in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian police told the Associated Press.

Police said the strike, early on Thursday, destroyed a four-story structure in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza, and that rescue workers were still searching for people trapped in the rubble.

The strike was one of 20 the Israeli military says were carried out since midnight on Wednesday.

It followed the breakdown of Egyptian-mediated talks aimed at producing a long term truce after more than a month of fighting that has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.

Israel says the airstrikes are in response to a resumption of Hamas rocket launches that ruptured the cease-fire Tuesday.

Following the collapse of the ceasefire, the U.N. Security Council called Wednesday on Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks to quickly agree on a lasting truce.

In a statement unanimously adopted, the 15-member council “offered full support to the Egyptian initiative and called upon the parties to resume negotiations to urgently reach a sustainable and lasting ceasefire.”

U.S. accuses Israel of targeting Palestinians

In a related story, the United States on Wednesday charged Israel of targeting members of a Palestinian family whose teenaged son was kidnapped and killed in July along with two cousins, who are U.S. citizens.

The death of the Palestinian teen, thought likely in retaliation for the abduction and killing of three Israeli Students in late June, sparked rioting and helped unleash the conflict under way in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in annexed east Jerusalem plunged to a new low on July 2 when 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder was snatched from an east Jerusalem street and later found burned alive.

Israeli police arrested six alleged Jewish extremists as suspects and on July 17 charged three, freeing the others.

Three days after his death, on July 5, the United States slammed Israel’s arrest of his 15-year-old cousin, Tarek Abu Khder, 15, a U.S. citizen. He was beaten in detention and has since been freed and returned to Florida.

On July 28, another cousin of Abu Khder, also American, was arrested in Israel as well, the State Department said Wednesday.

Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf identified him as “Mohammed Abou Khdeir,” his name being the same as his murdered cousin’s.

“We can confirm that Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a U.S. citizen, was arrested on July 28. The U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem is providing consular assistance. A consular official visited him on August 14th. The consulate is also in contact with Mr. Khdeir’s family and his lawyer,” Harf said.

“We are also concerned about the fact that members of the Khdeir family appeared to be singled out for arrest by the Israeli authorities,” she added.


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