• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Rocket fire and air strikes continue as the Israel-Gaza conflict enters a 10th day.

May 19, 2021

image captionDamage from an Israeli air strike overnight in Gaza City
Israel says it has targeted the homes of Hamas commanders as deadly fighting with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip enters a 10th day.
Israel said it had tried to kill Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif “several times”. Overnight, two militants died in a strike on an apartment.
Fresh barrages of rockets were also fired into Israel and sirens continued to sound on Wednesday morning.
Ceasefire moves continue behind the scenes but have made little headway.
The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says reports began circulating that a truce – brokered by Egypt – could come into force within days. However, these were quickly denied.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday: “We’re not standing with a stopwatch. We are taking care of the operation’s objectives.”
A Hamas leader said that efforts by mediators were “serious and continuous” but that Palestinian demands had to be met.
The fighting began after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem that culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas, which controls Gaza, began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionIsrael’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted Palestinian rockets throughout the night
At least 219 people, including almost 100 women and children, have been killed in Gaza so far, according to its health ministry. Israel has said at least 150 militants are among those killed in Gaza. Hamas does not give casualty figures for fighters.
In Israel 12 people, including two children, have been killed, its medical service says. Israel says some 3,750 rockets have been fired towards its territory by militants in Gaza.
The rocket attacks and Israeli air strikes continued overnight and into Wednesday.
The Israeli military said its fighter jets had attacked military infrastructure and the homes of Hamas commanders in Gaza.
The BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf in Gaza says two Palestinian militants were killed in an apartment in a building in central Gaza City as Israeli warplanes carried out more than 70 strikes.
About 50 strikes targeted the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, with attacks on militant groups’ training facilities, a Hamas-run security compound, and roads and farms, our correspondent says.
Gaza City mother of seven Randa Abu Sultan, 45, told AFP news agency: “My four-year-old son tells me he’s scared that if he falls asleep, he’ll wake up to find us dead.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they had again targeted a network of underground tunnels used by militants.
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionClashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces took place in the West Bank on Tuesday
IDF spokesman Brig Gen Hidai Zilberman also said: “Throughout the operation we have tried to assassinate Mohammed Deif. We’ve tried to kill him several times.”
Mohammed Deif is the head of Hamas’s military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and has survived repeated attempts on his life, including in the last major conflict in 2014. He tends to stay in the background and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Sirens warning of rocket fire sounded overnight in parts of south and central Israel, including the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, and continued to sound in some areas on Wednesday morning.
Hamas said it had launched rockets at the Palmachim air base for a second time overnight. Israel said no military bases had been hit.
Two Thai workers died in a rocket strike on a farm in Israel on Tuesday.
Of the 3,750 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip since the fighting began, 550 have fallen short in Gaza, according to the IDF. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system has intercepted about 90% of the rockets that have crossed into Israeli territory, it says.
media captionIsraeli air strikes bombard Gaza Strip
The IDF estimated that at the start of the conflict, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two main groups in Gaza, had an arsenal of about 12,000 rockets or mortars.
Mr Netanyahu said the Israeli operation had “set Hamas back by many years”.
On Wednesday, he said that he knew that Hamas would try to declare victory whatever happened but that if it were able to do so it would be “a defeat for us all”.
There has also been unrest within Israel and in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Palestinians took part in a general strike on Tuesday. There were clashes in several locations.
In New York on Tuesday, the latest meeting of the UN Security Council again failed to reach agreement.
France, in co-ordination with Egypt and Jordan, filed a resolution calling for an end to the violence, but it was only a draft.
The US, a long-standing ally of Israel, has been blocking attempts to issue a joint statement, saying it would not help with de-escalation, although it has called for a ceasefire.
The Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, called the Security Council’s failure to express a unified position “shameful”.
One Israeli military source told Reuters that Israel was assessing whether conditions were right for a truce.
The Ynet news website said that the Israelis were talking with the Egyptians. It quoted sources in the Israeli cabinet as saying Israel could achieve its objectives and end the fighting “within days”.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said the fighting had caused “immense suffering” and “must stop”.
“I call on all parties to the hostilities to agree to a humanitarian pause to allow for emergency humanitarian relief distribution,” he said.
image captionThe party of Turkish President Erdogan rejected US accusations of ant-Semitism
Separately on Wednesday, Turkey rejected US accusations that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made anti-Semitic remarks about Israel.
He had accused Israel of “terrorism” against the Palestinians and recently said: “It is in their nature”.
State department spokesman Ned Price said the US found the remarks “reprehensible”.
Omer Celik, a spokesman for Mr Erdogan’s party, said the president had given very strong messages against anti-Semitism, adding: “Accusing our president of anti-Semitism is an illogical and untrue approach. This is a lie.”
Timeline: How the violence escalated
The worst violence in years between Israel and the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip has seen dozens killed. It follows a month of spiralling tensions before open conflict broke out. Here is what happened in the lead-up to the fighting.
13 April
Image caption Israeli police officers detain a young Palestinian man at the Damascus Gate
Image copyright by Getty Images
Clashes erupt in East Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli police.
Palestinians are angry over barriers which had been placed outside the Damascus Gate entrance to the Jerusalem‘s Old City preventing them from gathering there after prayers at the Old City’s al-Aqsa Mosque on what is the first night of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Palestinian discontent had been stoked earlier in the day when President Mahmoud Abbas called off planned elections, implicitly blaming Israel over voting arrangements for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
Hamas – Mr Abbas’ Islamist rivals who control Gaza and were running in the elections – react angrily to the postponement.
Violence around Damascus Gate and elsewhere in East Jerusalem continues nightly.
15-16 April
Rockets are fired from Gaza at Israel, which responds with air strikes after a relative period of calm between Israel and the Palestinian enclave.
19 April
Clashes spread to the mixed Arab-Jewish port city of Jaffa, next to Tel Aviv.
20 April
In Jerusalem, Jewish youths, angry over a spate of filmed assaults by Palestinians on Orthodox Jews posted on the TikTok video-sharing app, attack Arabs and chant anti-Arab slogans.
23 April
Image caption Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians outside the Damascus Gate
Image copyright by Getty Images
Hundreds of ultra-nationalist Jews shouting “Death to Arabs” march towards Damascus Gate in protest at the Arab assaults on Jews. Clashes erupt at the site between Palestinians and police trying to separate the two groups, injuring dozens of people.
Violence between Arabs and Jews spreads to other parts of the city.
24 April
Militants fire dozens of rockets at Israel from Gaza, drawing retaliatory air strikes.
2 May
President Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas condemn the looming threatened eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem by Jewish settlers ahead of a planned court hearing. Hamas calls on Arabs to form “human shields of resistance” there.
In the days that follow, police and protesters repeatedly clash at the site as it becomes a focal point for Palestinian anger.
4 May
Militants in Gaza begin sending incendiary balloons into Israel over successive days, causing dozens of fires.
7 May
Two Palestinian gunmen are shot dead and a third is wounded after opening fire on Israeli security forces in the northern West Bank. Israeli authorities say the group planned to carry out a “major attack” in Israel.
Image caption The al-Aqsa mosque has been a frequent flashpoint for violence
Image copyright by Getty Images
Later on after Friday prayers – the last of Ramadan – major clashes erupt at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, injuring more than 200 people. Israel’s police force says it used “riot dispersal means”, firing rubber bullets and stun grenades after officers came under a hail of stones and bottles.
8 May
A second night of violence erupts in East Jerusalem after tens of thousands of worshippers prayed at the al-Aqsa mosque for Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night of Ramadan.
Police and protesters clash at Damascus Gate, with police using water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas against crowds of Palestinians, some throwing stones.
More than 120 Palestinians and some 17 police are injured.
9 May
Israel’s Supreme Court postpones the hearing on the Sheikh Jarrah case following calls to delay it because of the growing unrest. Tensions remain high though and more clashes take place between Israeli police and Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and at Damascus Gate.
10 May
Early morning clashes break out between police and Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, where crowds throw stones and officers fire stun grenades.
Palestinian anger has been inflamed by an annual Jerusalem Day march planned for later in the day by hundreds of Israeli nationalists to celebrate Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967.
The march is due to pass through predominantly Arab parts of the Old City in what is seen by Palestinians as a deliberate provocation. It is rerouted at the 11th hour, but the atmosphere remains volatile with more than 300 Palestinians and some 21 police injured in the violence at the holy site.
Hamas issues an ultimatum to Israel to “withdraw its soldiers… from the blessed al-Aqsa mosque and Sheikh Jarrah” by 18:00. When the deadline passes without an Israeli response, rockets are fired towards Jerusalem for the first time in years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the group has “crossed a red line” and Israel retaliates with air strikes, killing three Hamas fighters.
A continuing exchange of rocket-fire and air strikes quickly escalates into the fiercest hostilities between the two sides since they fought a war in 2014.
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