The Israeli-Palestinian fighting, which is already at a high temperature, only seems to intensify
Gaza city – Rockets from Gaza and Israel hit the territory in air strikes early Wednesday as the worst outbreak of violence since the 2014 war took many hallmarks of that devastating 50-day periodwith no final in sight and international concern growing.
The Hamas rulers in Gaza and other militant groups have fired hundreds of rockets, some of which have overwhelmed Israel’s anti-missile defenses, causing airstrike sirens and explosions to reverberate in Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest metropolitan area and other cities.
Israeli air strikes have leveled multi-story buildings across Gaza where 2 million Palestinians have lived under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas came to power in 2007. Warning shots have allowed civilians to evacuate the buildings, but the material losses will be immense. Israel was heavily criticized during the 2014 war.
United Nations Ambassador for Peace for the Middle East Tor Wennesland tweeted, “Stop the fire now. We are escalating into a war in full. Leaders on all sides must take responsibility for the de-escalation. The cost of the war in Gaza is up.” devastating and becoming devastating. ” paid by the common people. The UN is working with all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now. “
Shortly after daybreak on Wednesday, Israel unleashed dozens of air strikes in minutes, targeting police and security facilities, witnesses said. A wall of dark gray smoke rose over Gaza City.
The Ministry of Health In Gaza, 43 people have been killed in the past two days, including 13 children and three women and nearly 300 others injured.
Senior CBS News Foreign Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer says the Israeli military insists it is only directed against terrorists – the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their institutions, but the material damage is immense and to people in the area crowded enclave there is no safe place.
Samah Haboub, a mother of four in Gaza, said she was thrown through her bedroom in a “moment of horror” by an air strike on an apartment tower next door. She and her children, ages three to fourteen, ran down the stairs of their apartment block with other residents, many of them screaming and crying.
“There is almost no safe place in Gaza,” she said.
Six Israelis, including three women and a child, were killed by rocket fire on Tuesday and early Wednesday and dozens of people were injured. The Israeli military said Palestinian militants have fired more than 1,050 rockets since the conflict began, 200 of which missed out and landed in Gaza.
Palmer reported Wednesday that it isn’t just an air war. There was also violence on the ground. Overnight in Ramallah, West Bank, police fired tear gas to evict hundreds of young men who, like most Palestinians, had had enough of the Israeli occupation.
Roots of the newest exchanges
The most recent outbreak of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where persistent police tactics during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened displacement of dozen of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers sparked protests and clashes with the police. One focus was the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy place that is sacred to Jews and Muslims.
Israel and Hamas have waged three wars since the militant Islamic group seized power from rival Palestinian forces in Gaza in 2007. The conflicts ended after regional and international powers convinced both sides to accept an informal ceasefire.
While the violence has been widely condemned, there is no sign that either side is ready to step down. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to expand the offensive, saying “this will take time,” and the riots in Jerusalem spread to the occupied West Bank and within Israel itself when Hamas called for a sweeping Palestinian intifada or insurrection .
The Gaza Ministry of Health said the 35 deaths included 12 children and 3 women and an additional 233 people were injured. Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said the move to residential areas had “panicked” people.
In the Israeli city of Lod, a 52-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter were killed early Wednesday when a missile landed in the courtyard of their one-story home. Her car parked outside was destroyed and the inside of the house was filled with rubble.
Lod also faced severe clashes after thousands of mourners joined a funeral for an Arab man who was killed by an alleged Jewish rifleman the previous night. The crowd fought with police and set fire to a synagogue and about 30 vehicles, including a police car, Israeli media reported. Paramedics said a 56-year-old man was seriously injured after stones were thrown at his car.
“An intifada has broken out in Lod, you have to call in the army,” said the city’s mayor, Yair Revivo. The authorities have declared a state of emergency and ordered the use of paramilitary border guards from the West Bank as reinforcements.
In neighboring Ramle, ultra-nationalist Jewish demonstrators were filmed attacking Arab cars. Protesters set fire to a Jewish restaurant and hotel in the northern port city of Acre. Police arrested dozens of others during Arab protests in other cities.
Israeli politics shadow struggles
Israel is in political limbo after four inconclusive elections in less than two years.
Opponents of Netanyahu have tried to forge a government to oust him, but they are deeply divided and will likely need the support of an Arab-backed party with Islamist roots. The current tensions could prevent the party leader Mansour Abbas, at least for the time being, from joining a coalition with Jewish parties.
The sides have three weeks to reach an agreement. If they fail, Israel would likely begin an unprecedented fifth campaign in just over two years.
Netanyahu appeared on Tuesday in a token of unity with one of his rivals, Defense Secretary Benny Gantz. Gantz said Israel’s strikes were “just the beginning,” and the military said it was activating around 5,000 reservists and sending reinforcements to the Gaza border.
Last weekend there were confrontations on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This is the third holiest place in Islam and the holiest place in Judaism. Within four days, Israeli police fired tear gas and stunned grenades at Palestinians on the premises, who hurled stones and chairs at the armed forces. Sometimes the police would fire stun grenades into the carpeted mosque.
Hamas began firing rockets from Gaza on Monday evening. From then on, the escalation was quick.
In a televised address, Hamas’ exile leader Ismail Haniyeh said Israel was responsible. “It is the Israeli occupation that set Jerusalem on fire and the flames have reached Gaza,” he said.
Violence creates more violence
Hamas has not commented on Israel’s claims that it killed dozens of fighters, including a number of senior commanders. Islamic Jihad has confirmed that three high-ranking commanders were killed in a strike while hiding in a residential building in Gaza City.
Netanyahu said Israel attacked hundreds of targets. The most violent attack was a series of air strikes that brought down an entire 12-story building. The building housed important Hamas offices as well as a gym and some start-up companies. Israel fired a series of warning shots before demolishing the building so people could escape and there were no casualties.
Israeli planes badly damaged another building in Gaza City early Wednesday. The nine-story structure housed residential apartments, medical businesses, and a dental clinic. A drone fired five warning missiles before the bombing. Israel said the building houses Hamas intelligence services and the command of the group responsible for planning attacks on Israeli targets in the occupied West Bank.
Fighter jets hit the building again after journalists and rescuers gathered. There was no immediate word about the victims. The skyscraper was 650 feet from the Associated Press office in Gaza City, and smoke and debris were pouring into the office.
Shortly after the bombing, Hamas announced that it would restart its attacks and fired 100 rockets at the Israeli desert city of Beersheba. Hamas said the renewed barrage was a response to the strike against the building.
Diplomats tried to intervene, with Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations working to bring about a ceasefire. All three serve as mediators between Israel and Hamas.
The United States Security Council planned to hold its second emergency closed session on three days Wednesday on the escalating violence, an indication of growing international concern. The council’s diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private and said the most powerful body in the United States had not made a statement because the US feared tensions might arise.
The Arab League, some members of which have grown closer to the Jewish state over the past year, said Israel’s actions were “indiscriminate and irresponsible” and accused it of “dangerous escalation” in Jerusalem.