Denver, Colorado 2021-05-11 18:50:09 –
By JOSEF FEDERMAN and FARESA KRAM
Jerusalem (AP) —Israel intensified its attacks on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, flattening skyscrapers used by Hamas militant groups, and Palestinian rockets raining almost non-stop in parts of Israel. Killed at least three militants in the hideout.
It has been the most fierce battle between two bitter enemies since 2014, with no signs of slowdown.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to expand the attack, and Gaza militants unleashed a fierce midnight barrage of rockets that caused air raid warnings and explosions throughout the densely populated Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
Three Israeli women were killed by rockets and dozens were injured. According to the Ministry of Health, the death toll in Gaza has increased to 32 Palestinians, including 10 children. More than 200 people were injured.
Another sign of growing anxiety was the outbreak of protests in the Arab community across Israel, where protesters confronted police and set fire to dozens of vehicles.
The battle between Israel and Hamas has been the fiercest since the 50-day war in the summer of 2014. Over 24 hours, the current violence caused by religious tensions in the disputed city of Jerusalem increasingly resembled its devastating war. ..
The boom of Israeli airstrikes and the swooshing of rocket launches were heard all day in Gaza, and loud smoke from the target building rose into the air. Israel has resumed its airstrike policy aimed at killing wanted militants and has begun to destroy the entire building. This is a tactic that has received international criticism in 2014.
In Israel, non-stop barrages of rockets left long lines of white smoke in their tracks, but anti-rocket interceptor explosions soared overhead. Air raid sirens rang all day long, rushing to cover up panicked residents.
In a nationally aired speech, Netanyahu said Hamas and a small group of Islamic Jihad militants “will pay a hefty price for their attacks.”
He claimed that Israel had killed dozens of militants and caused enormous damage to hundreds of targets.
“This campaign will take some time,” he said. “With determination, unity and power, we restore the security of Israeli citizens.”
He stood alongside his political rival, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, at a unity show. “There are a lot of targets in line. This is just the beginning,” Gantz said. The military said it had activated about 5,000 reserves and sent military reinforcements to the Gaza border.
Current violence coincides with the fasting month of Ramadan Muslims, a period of heightened religious sentiment.
Critics say the aggressive Israeli police action in and around the Old City of Jerusalem helped to arouse nightly anxiety. Another flash point is in the East Jerusalem district of Sheikhjara, where dozens of Palestinians are under threat of eviction by Jewish settlers.
Last weekend, a conflict broke out on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holy place in Islam and the most holy place in Judaism. For four days, Israeli police fired tear gas and grenades at Palestinians on the premises who threw stones and chairs at the army. From time to time, police fired stun grenades at carpeted mosques.
Hamas began launching rockets from Gaza on Monday night. From there, the escalation was rapid.
In a televised speech, Hamas’ exiled leader Ismail Hanier said Israel was responsible. “It was the occupation of Israel that ignited Jerusalem, and the flames reached Gaza,” he said.
Palestinian health officials did not provide a breakdown of the death toll in Gaza, but the Islamic Jihad war confirmed that three senior commanders had been killed in a strike in a hideout in an apartment in Gaza. The Ministry of Health said 10 children and 1 woman were also killed.
Netanyahu said Israel had attacked hundreds of targets. The most violent attacks were a series of airstrikes that destroyed the entire 12-story building. The building had important Hamas offices, a gym and several start-ups. Israel fired a series of warning shots before destroying the building, allowing people to flee and no casualties.
Israeli forces said hundreds of rockets were launched at Israel. Two women, including an Indian caregiver, were killed in separate rocket strikes in the southern city of Ashkelon.
Then late at night, Hamas said it unleashed a barrage of 130 rockets towards Tel Aviv in response to the destruction of the high rise. As the rocket went up into the sky, the Gaza mosque rang with chanting “God is wonderful,” “victory to Islam,” and “resistance.”
One rocket killed a woman in Rishon LeTsiong and another crashed into a bus in nearby Holon, injuring three people, including a girl.
Violence was beginning to spread to Israel’s own Arabs. There, angry demonstrations erupted all over the country.
Thousands of mourners joined the funeral of an Arab who was killed by a Jewish gunman the night before on the central city of Road. Israeli media reported that the crowd clashed with police and set fire to about 30 vehicles, including synagogues and police cars. Paramedics said a 56-year-old man was seriously injured after being stoned into a car.
Mayor Yair Revivo described the situation in a mixed Jewish and Arab city as a “civil war,” and the government ordered the deployment of paramilitary border guards from the West Bank to Lod.
In Ramuru next door, a transnational Jewish demonstrator was filmed attacking an Arab car. In the northern port city of Acre, protesters set fire to Jewish-owned restaurants and hotels. Police arrested dozens of people in Arab protests in other towns.
Diplomats called for intervention, and Qatar, Egypt, and the United Nations worked to achieve a ceasefire. All three act as intermediaries between Israel and Hamas.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to “spiral” violence, a UN spokesman said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken to the Israeli Foreign Minister to condemn Hamas’s attack and “repeat the important message of deescalation,” the State Department said.
Escalation occurs during periods of Israeli political turmoil.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has been the caretaker’s prime minister since the undecided parliamentary elections in March. His political rivals are now given the opportunity after failing to establish a coalition government by the deadline last week.
The support of the Arab-backed party with Islamist roots is the key to the anti-Netanyahu block. But current tensions may discourage party leader Mansour Abbas from joining the coalition with the Jewish Party, at least for the foreseeable future.
Both sides have three weeks to reach an agreement. If they fail, Israel could enter an unprecedented fifth election campaign in just two years.
Akram reported from the city of Gaza in the Gaza Strip. Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion also contributed to this report.
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