No respite from Israeli airstrikes on Gaza

19 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

GAZA CITY: Heavy air strikes and rocket fire in the Israel-Gaza conflict claimed more lives on both sides on Tuesday as tensions flared in Palestinian “day of anger” protests in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, reports AFP.

The UN Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting amid a diplomatic push to end the fighting, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Israel would “continue striking at the terrorist targets”.

Israel’s intense bombing campaign has killed 213 Palestinians, including 61 children, and wounded more than 1,400 people in Gaza in more than a week of fighting against Islamist group Hamas, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

The death toll on the Israeli side rose to 12 when a volley of rockets Hamas fired at the southern Eshkol region killed two Thai nationals working in a factory and wounded several others, police said.

Israeli strikes that again sent fireballs, debris and black smoke into the sky have levelled homes and multi-story towers, cratered roads and left two million Palestinians in the enclave desperate for reprieve.

“They destroyed our house but I don’t know why they targeted us,” said Nazmi al-Dahdouh, 70, of Gaza City who remained shocked by what he called “a terrifying, violent night”.

The humanitarian crisis deepened in the impoverished strip, from where Hamas has launched nearly 3,500 rockets at Israel since May 10, often forcing people living near Gaza into bomb shelters around the clock.

But a convoy of international aid trucks that started rolling into Gaza through a border crossing from Israel, Kerem Shalom, was halted when Israel quickly shuttered it again, citing a mortar attack on the area.

The UN Security Council session, the fourth since the conflict escalated, was called after the United States, a key Israel ally, blocked adoption of a joint statement calling for a halt to the violence on Monday for the third time in a week.

US President Joe Biden, having resisted joining other world leaders and much of his own Democratic party in calling for an immediate end to hostilities, told Netanyahu Monday night he backs a ceasefire, but stopped short of demanding a truce.

Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart and the Egyptian government, a key intermediary, on Monday, saying that Washington was engaged in “quiet, intensive diplomacy”.


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