Israel has resumed air strikes on Gaza after its declared seven-hour humanitarian truce ended, pledging that there would be no end to its bloody military campaign in the strip without achieving long-term security for its people.
Late on Monday, Palestinian officials said an Israeli air strike hit a target next to a desalination plant in Gaza, killing two people and wounding 16 others.
Images of the bloodshed in Gaza, which has claimed more than 1,800 Palestinian lives and 67 in Israel, have sent tensions soaring across the region, earning Tel Aviv strong criticism for the soaring numbers of civilian casualties.
“How many more deaths will it take to stop what must be called the carnage in Gaza?” asked French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov also added his voice to growing calls for an agreement to end the violence, his ministry said on Monday.
In Cairo, truce talks between a Palestinian delegation and Egyptian officials were ongoing.
An Egyptian source said Cairo presented Palestinian demands to Israel on Monday and was pushing for an extended ceasefire to allow talks to continue.
“We are now awaiting the Israeli response,” the source said.
Israel turned down an invitation to attend, with Hamas accusing Tel Aviv of attempting to scuttle the talks in a bid to avoid blame for its “escalating massacres” in Gaza.
The Palestinians want Israel withdraw all troops from Gaza, end its eight-year blockade of the enclave and open border crossings.
Shunning increasingly vocal world demands for a truce, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be no end without first securing a long-term period of calm for his people.
“The campaign in Gaza is continuing,” he said at the end of a seven-hour humanitarian lull which saw violence subside in the battered Palestinian enclave.
“This operation will only end when quiet and security is established for the citizens of Israel for a prolonged period.”
Israel troops, which had begun withdrawing from besieged enclave at the weekend, largely held their fire in Gaza during a unilateral seven-hour truce, which began at 0700 GMT.
The humanitarian window got off to a shaky start with an air strike levelling a house in a beachfront refugee camp in Gaza City, killing three people, among them an eight-year-old girl, the emergency services said.
“There is no truce. How could there be a truce,” raged Ayman Mahmud, who lives in the neighbourhood.
“They are liars! They don’t even respect their own commitments!”
Hamas accused Israel of breaking the humanitarian window.
“The breaking of the truce by the occupation after it was announced from their side and targeting Palestinian families and houses minutes after the truce started – that shows the lies of the occupation about the humanitarian truce,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
Gaza officials say 1,848 Palestinians have been killed and more than a quarter of the enclave’s 1.8 million residents displaced.
As many as 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged.
Gaza medics said they retrieved 32 bodies from the rubble.
On Monday the tensions exploded in Jerusalem which saw its first deadly attack in more than three years.
A Palestinian rammed an earthmover into the side of a bus, knocking it over and killing one Israeli and wounding another five, police said.
The driver was quickly shot dead by two policemen who happened to be at the scene, foiling what police described as a “terrorist attack.”
Shortly afterwards, as his body lay in the street where the incident happened – which is on the seamline between east and west Jerusalem – scores of curious onlookers rushed to the scene, both Israeli and Palestinian.
As the police went to remove the body, some Israelis in the crowd began whistling and chanted “Death to Arabs.”
In the same area, dozens of Israelis could be seen trying to attack Arab cars, as well as a public bus with an Arab driver, although they were stopped by police, the correspondent said, creating a highly volatile situation.
They also attacked a bus carrying Arab workers whom the police had been trying to evacuate from the area.
Shortly afterwards, a gunman on a motorbike opened fire at an Israeli soldier who was standing by the roadside in the nearby area of Mount Scopus, seriously wounding him, police said.