Israeli air strikes hit Gaza as fighting enters second week
On Monday, Israel attacked what it claimed were Hamas hidden tunnels, and Palestinian rebels launched missile barrages at Israeli cities as violence entered its second week and foreign demands for a truce became louder.
Following a night of intense Israeli air strikes around the Islamist Hamas-run enclave, Israel’s military said Gaza insurgents launched about 60 rockets at Israeli cities overnight, down from 120 and 200 the previous nights.
A Palestinian sponge factory in northern Gaza was struck by an air strike in the morning, and firefighters fought to put out the flames, which brought plumes of smoke into the air. According to medics, one Palestinian was killed in an air attack later that morning.
Following rocket attacks from Gaza on the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon, Israeli jets bombed what the military defined as 15 kilometres (nine miles) of underground tunnels used by Hamas. It also claimed it hit nine homes belonging to high-ranking Hamas commanders.
Residents of Gaza hurried to bakeries and drugstores to load up with flour and other necessities as the sounds of Israeli bombing continued in the morning.
“Even after the surge of intense bombing ended, my children couldn’t sleep all night,” Umm Naeem, 50, a mother of five, said as she shopped for bread in Gaza City. “What is happening to us is unbearable, but Jerusalem needs all of the sacrifices.”
According to Gaza health authorities, 198 people have died since the fighting began, including 58 children and 34 women. According to Israeli officials, ten people have been killed in Israel, including two teenagers.
After weeks of tensions over a court battle to oust many Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in revenge for Israeli police battles with Palestinians near the city’s al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest location, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Hamas launched its rocket attack last Monday.
World outrage had already grown after an Israeli air strike in Gaza on Sunday that demolished many homes and killed 42 civilians, including 10 girls, according to Palestinian health officials, as well as persistent rocket attacks on Israeli cities.
“Both sides must deescalate conflicts – the conflict must cease urgently,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted, adding urgency to Washington’s demands for calm after meeting with Egypt’s foreign minister.
At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sunday, the United States said that it had informed Israel, the Palestinians, and others that it was willing to provide assistance “should the parties pursue a cease-fire.” more details
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s operation in Gaza is continuing with “absolute power,” and that deterrence must be done in order to avoid potential war with Hamas.
“We are acting now, for however long as it takes, to restore peace and silence to you, the people of Israel. It will take some time “Netanyahu said in a televised address after a meeting of his security Cabinet on Sunday.
US President Joe Biden said that his administration was engaging with both stakeholders to achieve long-term calm.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres informed the Security Council in New York that the UN was “fully engaging both parties toward an urgent truce” and encouraged them to “enable diplomatic attempts to accelerate and succeed.” Past truces between Israel and Hamas have been helped by UN envoys.
Washington, a close friend of Israel, has been isolated at the United Nations for its opposition to the Security Council issuing an official declaration on the conflict because it fears it would jeopardise behind-the-scenes negotiations. more details
Jordan’s King Abdullah said that his country was engaged in extensive diplomacy to stop the bloodshed, but provided no further information.
According to the Israeli military, Hamas and other militant groups have launched about 3,150 missiles from Gaza in the last week. Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States, and the European Union.
Approximately 90% of the missiles were intercepted by Israel’s missile defence system, with approximately 460 landing in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas said the attacks were in revenge for Israel’s “ongoing violence against civilians,” including a Sunday air strike that damaged a number of homes in Gaza City.
The Israeli military said that civilian deaths were accidental and that its jets targeted a militant tunnel system, which exploded, dragging the homes down. It was referred to as “premeditated assassination” by Hamas.
Netanyahu justified another Israeli air attack a day earlier that demolished a 12-story building where the Associated Press and the Al Jazeera TV network had offices on CBS’ “Face the Nation” show.
According to him, the building also housed the terrorist group’s intelligence agency, rendering it a credible option.
The residents had been granted prior notice to depart by Israel. The Associated Press also criticised the attack and urged Israel to provide proof that Hamas was present in the building.