Deadly night of violence flares between Israel and Palestinian militants
Israel and Hamas exchanged heavy fire on Tuesday, with 35 Palestinians killed in Gaza and five in Israel, in a dramatic escalation between the bitter rivals sparked by unrest at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Israel on Tuesday stepped up its attacks on the Gaza Strip, flattening a high-rise building used by the Hamas militant group and killing at least three militants in their hideouts as Palestinian rockets rained down almost nonstop on parts of Israel. It was the heaviest fighting between the two bitter enemies since 2014, and it showed no signs of slowing.
Israel and Hamas exchanged heavy fire on Tuesday, with 35 Palestinians killed in Gaza and five in Israel, in a dramatic escalation between the bitter rivals sparked by unrest at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The booms of Israeli airstrikes and hisses of outgoing rocket fire could be heard in Gaza throughout the day, and large plumes of smoke from targeted buildings rose into the air. Israel resumed a policy of airstrikes aimed at killing wanted militants and began to take down entire buildings — a tactic that drew heavy international criticism in 2014.
In Israel, the nonstop barrages of rocket fire left long streaks of white smoke in their wake, while the explosions of anti-rocket interceptors boomed overhead. Air-raid sirens wailed throughout the day, sending panicked residents scurrying for cover.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to expand the offensive, while Gaza militants unleashed a fierce late-night barrage of rockets that set off air-raid sirens and explosions throughout the densely populated Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu said that Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant groups “have paid, and I tell you here, will pay a heavy price for their aggression.”Oil tank is on fire near the town of Ashkelon, Israel, after it was hit by a rocket fire from Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
The current violence has coincided with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, a time of heightened religious sentiments. Tensions in Jerusalem have flared into the city’s worst disturbances since 2017 since Israeli riot police clashed with large crowds of Palestinian worshippers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
What is the world saying
The White House on Tuesday condemned ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other groups against targets in Israel and said Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself.“Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith around the world, must be a place of co-existence,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. She said the primary US focus is on de-escalation.Jacob Simona stands by his burning car during clashes with Israeli Arabs and police in the Israeli mixed city of Lod, Israel Tuesday, May 11,2021. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is demanding an immediate halt to the “spiraling escalation” in Israeli-Palestinian violence. A spokesman says the United Nations “is working with all relevant parties to de-escalate the situation urgently.” Guterres “is gravely concerned” by the upsurge in violence, and “is deeply saddened to learn of increasingly large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.
The U.N. Security will hold emergency consultations Wednesday on the escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis. The U.N. Mideast envoy, Tor Wennesland, is expected to brief the 15 council members virtually at the closed meeting, which is being called at the request of China, Tunisia and Norway.
Firefighters and youths inspect destroyed buildings after it was hit by Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, early Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)