Nine children among 26 killed in Israel airstrikes in Gaza

Hamas bombards southern Israel with hundreds of rockets, killing two Israelis

GAZA CITY: Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza early Tuesday, hitting a pair of high-rise buildings believed to be housing fighters, as Hamas and other armed groups bombarded southern Israel with hundreds of rockets.

The escalation was sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem.

Since sundown Monday, 26 Palestinians, including nine children and a woman, were killed in Gaza, most by airstrikes, Gaza health officials said. The Israeli military claimed at least 16 of the dead were fighters.

During the same period, Gaza fighters fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel, killing at least two Israelis and wounding 10 others.

In a further sign of rising tensions, Israel signaled it is widening its military campaign. The military said it is sending troop reinforcements to the Gaza border and the defense minister ordered the mobilization of 5,000 reserve soldiers.

But, in a positive sign, officials said that Egypt was working on brokering a cease-fire.

The overnight rockets and airstrikes were preceded by hours of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, including dramatic confrontations at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a sacred site to both Jews and Muslims.

The current violence, like previous rounds, including the last intifada, or uprising, has been fueled by conflicting claims over Jerusalem, which is at the emotional core of the sides’ long conflict.

In a sign of widening unrest, hundreds of residents of Arab communities across Israel staged overnight demonstrations — denouncing the recent actions of Israeli security forces against Palestinians. It was one of the largest protests by Palestinian citizens in Israel in recent years.

Israel and Hamas, a fighter group, have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Recent rounds of fighting have usually ended after a few days, often helped by behind-the-scenes mediation by Qatar, Egypt, and others.

An Egyptian official confirmed that the country was trying to broker a truce. But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing sensitive diplomacy, said Israeli actions in Jerusalem had complicated those efforts. A Palestinian security official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the cease-fire efforts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that fighting could “continue for some time.” Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters Tuesday that the military was in “the early stages” of strikes against Gaza targets that it had planned well in advance.

Israel carried out dozens of airstrikes, including two that targeted high-rise buildings where fighters were believed to be hiding.

At midday, an airstrike hit an apartment building in central Gaza City. Local media said an unknown number of fighters had been killed. But the force of the blast sent terrified residents, including women and children who were barefoot, running into the streets.

An earlier airstrike struck a high-rise elsewhere in Gaza City as people were conducting dawn prayers, residents said. Health officials said two men and a woman were killed. The woman’s 19-year-old disabled son was among the dead, residents said.

Ashraf al-Kidra, a spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, said a total of 26 people, including nine children and the woman, were killed and 122 people were wounded. He said Israel’s “relentless assault” was overwhelming the health care system, which has been struggling with a Covid-19 outbreak.

The escalation comes at a time of political limbo in Israel.

Netanyahu has been acting as a caretaker prime minister since an inconclusive parliamentary election in March. He tried and failed to form a coalition government with his hard-line and ultra-Orthodox allies, and the task was handed to his political rivals last week.

One of those rivals is Israel’s defense minister, who is overseeing the Gaza campaign. It was not clear whether the toxic political atmosphere is spilling over into military decision-making, though the rival camps have unanimously expressed support for striking Hamas hard.

The support of an Arab-backed party with Islamist roots is key for the anti-Netanyahu bloc’s efforts. But the current tensions might deter the party’s leader, Mansour Abbas, from joining a coalition for now. The sides have three more weeks to reach a deal.

The current round of violence in Jerusalem coincided with the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in mid-April.

Critics say heavy-handed police measures helped stoke nightly unrest, including a decision to temporarily seal off a popular gathering spot where Palestinian residents would meet after evening prayers. Another flashpoint was the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where dozens of Palestinians are under threat of eviction by Jewish settlers.

Over the weekend, confrontations erupted at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is the third holiest site of Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.

Over several days, Israel police fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets at Palestinians in the compound who hurled stones and chairs. Hundreds of Palestinians were hurt. Two dozen officers were also injured. At times, police fired stun grenades into the carpeted mosque.

On Monday evening, Hamas began firing rockets from Gaza, setting off air raid sirens as far as Jerusalem. From there on, the escalation was rapid.

Conricus, the army spokesman, said Gaza fighters fired more than 250 rockets at Israel, with about one-third falling short and landing in Gaza.

The army said that a rocket landed a direct hit on a seven-story apartment block in the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon. Israeli paramedic service Magen David Adom said it treated six people injured in the rocket strike. Two were hospitalized in moderate condition.

Later, a second building in the city of Ashdod was hit, lightly wounding four people, Israeli police said.

Conricus said the military hit 130 targets in Gaza, including two tunnels fighters were digging under the border with Israel. He said Israel’s new system of concrete barriers and electronic sensors, intended to thwart tunnel digging, has proven effective.

He did not address Gaza Health Ministry reports about the dead children.

In Gaza, most of the deaths were attributed to airstrikes. However, seven of the deaths were members of a single-family, including three children, who died in an explosion in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. It was not clear if the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike or errant rocket.

Dozens of mourners took part in the funeral of Hussein Hamad, an 11-year-old boy who was among the dead.

More than 100 Gazans were wounded in the airstrikes, the Health Ministry said.

Israel struck scores of Gaza homes in its 2014 war with Hamas, arguing it was aiming at fighters, but also killing many civilians. The practice drew broad international condemnation at the time.

Israel’s tactics in Jerusalem have drawn angry reactions from the Muslim world.

Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia on Monday condemned in the strongest terms what it said were attacks by Israeli forces against the sanctity of Al-Aqsa and the safety of its worshippers.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry called Tuesday on the international community to hold Israeli forces responsible for any escalation.

1 COMMENT

  1. The HAMAS timing is perfect.

    There is NO REAL political authority in ISRAEL,and Benjy is on his way out

    The Allies of Benjy,are all ULTRA RIGHT ORTHODOX JEWS – who will provoke Benjy Benjy and his wife,are ALMOST in Jail

    If the ULTRA RIGHT ORTHODOX JEWS cannot PUSH Benjy,to annex West Bank,and start an Exodus of Arabs,from Jerusalem – in 2021 COVID – then,they will never get another opportunity (which will doom Benjy,and the ULTRA RIGHT ORTHODOX JEWS – forever) HAMAS has forced Benjy to crackdown on Arabs,lynch Arabs and evict Arabs – as a retaliation and show of control and strength – thereby,providing more popular support to HAMAS,INSIDE ISRAEL – with the Arabs

    No SANE US President or the UN will support a IDF invasion or blockade of Gaza or annexation – in 2021 COVID by a leader who is on his way to jail and is a caretaker PM

    Benjy needs a DISTRACTION and a VICTORY,and an EMERGENCY (which is the current strife)

    IRAN is possibly to resume N Negotiations,with the US – thereby giving the US and Iran,multiple levers to play with

    Benjy knows that IRAN is behind HAMAS

    Using the Temple of Solomon,was the TRUMP Card – as it provoked the Israeli Police – and nurturing this fire,can create mass unrest,across Muslims nations

    Unrest across Muslim nations will allow Iran to fish and scuba rocket dive in troubled waters

    If Hamas keeps on firing rockets,that is a victory,irrespective of,how many are killed in Gaza.The rocket saturation and decoy model is meant to ensure that 10-20% penetrate the ADS (Iron Dome) – so the success of the IRON DOME fits in with the PLAN OF HAMAS.It also games the ADS for the NEXGEN ROCKETS (which will come depending on the US- IRAN N Dialogue and events in the Temple)

    To Stop Hamas – IDF will have to ENTER GAZA,as the blockade is of no use – since Hamas is stocked up With the blockade,there will be a lack of food,water,medical aid in Gaza and the Media will be there to report it

    ALL THE ABOVE WILL ENSURE,MORE VC FUNDING FOR HAMAS

    The Temple of Solomon,is DUE to be rebuilt (as per Prophecy).TO REBUILD – YOU 1ST NEED TO DESTROY ! dindooohindoo

    There are 3-500 rockets in the air,over Jerusalem EVERY DAY and there is a stockpile of explosives inside the Temple !

    Anything can happen – and it is all PURE CHANCE OR PROVIDENCE (And the Red Moon has passed)

    If Something happens or is inevitable – THEN the TURKS will move in for sure – and then,History repeats again !

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