Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed at least 26 Palestinians, including eight children, on Sunday, as the attacks entered its seventh day, Reuters reported. The attacks conducted early on Sunday resulted in the toll in Gaza going up to 174, including 47 children, health officials said. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.
The Israeli military also claimed that it had destroyed the home of Yahya Sinwar, the senior-most leader of Palestinian militant group Hamas, AP reported.
The conflict does not seem to be nearing an end immediately as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday said that the country would continue the attack as long as they were necessary. Palestinian militant group Hamas said they would continue their cross-border firing, according to Reuters.
Since the conflict began, Israel has levelled a number of Gaza’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they house Hamas military infrastructure. On Saturday, it turned to the 12-storey Al-Jalaa building, where the offices of the AP, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets were located, along with several floors of apartments.
The owner of the building, Jawad Mehdi, on Sunday denied charges that it had contained assets of Hamas intelligence agency and said no evidence for the claim was provided by Israeli authorities, Al Jazeera reported.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years. European Union foreign ministers will also hold urgent video talks on the escalating fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell Fontelles, said in a tweet.
On Saturday, United States President Joe Biden spoke to Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose authority is confined to parts of the occupied West Bank. 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.
The violence, which has resulted in the worst conflict between Israel and Palestine since 2014, escalated on May 7. On that day, 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.