Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that attacks on the Gaza Strip in Palestine would continue as long as they were necessary, Al Jazeera reported.
“Israel’s operations on Gaza will continue as long as needed to reach its aims,” he said at a news conference.
Netanyahu’s statements came as his country’s airstrikes on Gaza entered its seventh consecutive day, killing at least eight Palestinians and wounding dozens more.
The latest round of conflict, which is the worst since the 2014 Gaza war, has killed over 150 Palestinians, including at least 41 children, in the past week. Israel has reported 10 deaths, including two children, according to Al Jazeera.
On Sunday, Israeli warplanes struck several buildings and roads in central Gaza City. Photos circulated by residents and journalists showed the airstrikes punched a crater that blocked one of the main roads leading to Shifa hospital, the largest medical centre in the strip, according to the AP.
The Israeli military also destroyed the home of Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yehiyeh Sinwar. The Palestinian militant group ruling Gaza has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.
A day before, Israeli forces had flattened a building housing the offices of Al Jazeera and the AP. The Israeli military called the office of media organisations “an important base of operations for Hamas’ military intelligence”.
“The base gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper IDF operations,” the Israeli Defense Forces wrote on Twitter.
Netanyahu also claimed that the tower, which housed offices of various media groups, was being used by Palestinian groups, including Hamas. The prime minister claimed that Israel shows “special care” to avoid civilian deaths in attacks on Gaza, according to Al Jazeera.
Netanyahu thanks US as Biden pledges support
At his press conference on Sunday, the Israeli prime minister also thanked United States President Joe Biden for his support.
Biden spoke to Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose authority is confined to parts of the occupied West Bank, on Saturday. The Biden administration has affirmed its “strong support” for Israel’s “right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist attacks in Gaza”, according to a statement by the White House.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the United Nations Security Council to seek a de-escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine. He also blamed the US for the council’s lack of action so far.
“Regrettably, the council has so far failed to reach an agreement, with the United States standing on the opposite side of international justice,” the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Wang as saying.
The violence began in Palestine escalated on May 7 when the Israeli police stormed into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades at worshipers during the holy month of Ramadan. Israel’s actions were seen as a retaliation to the protests by Palestinians against attempts to forcibly evict a number of families from their homes.
At the heart of the conflict is an Israeli Supreme Court hearing, which was due on May 10, in a long-running legal case about whether several Palestinian families would be evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood near Damascus Gate that was given to Israeli settlers.
As the court hearing neared, Palestinians and Left-wing Israelis began holding larger demonstrations, saying more evictions could cause a domino effect throughout the overwhelmingly Palestinian neighbourhood.