Israel carried out a series of overnight airstrikes on what the Benjamin Netanyahu-led government said were militant targets in Gaza, reported the AP on Tuesday. The airstrikes brought down a six-story building and led to dozens of rockets being fired into Israel.
Palestinians, meanwhile, held a general strike as the conflict between the two sides now reached the second week.
There were no immediate reports of deaths in Gaza due to the overnight attacks, according to the BBC, citing health officials. However, 212 Palestinians, including 61 children have died so far, due to the ongoing conflict, according to Gaza’s health ministry. In Israel, as many as 10 people, including a 5-year-old boy, were killed.
The United Nations said that more than 38,000 Palestinians were displaced in Gaza due to the Israeli airstrikes and over 2,500 were rendered homeless as their residences were damaged.
“We continue to receive reports of significant displacement of Palestinians, with over 38,000 internally displaced people seeking protection in 48 schools run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) across the Gaza Strip,” the United Nations statement read. “Over 2,500 people have been made homeless due to the destruction of their homes.”
Following the airstrikes, which were carried out till late on Monday and early on Tuesday, Israel said that it had inflicted severe damage to Hamas’ military infrastructure.
The Israel-Palestine conflict does not seem to be nearing an end immediately as Netanyahu on May 15 said that the country would continue the attacks as long as was necessary. Palestinian militant group Hamas had also said they would continue their cross-border firing.
Since the conflict began, Israel has levelled a number of Gaza’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging that 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.
Global call for ceasefire
Protests have broken out in the United States, Pakistan, Argentina, South Korea and Indonesia against Israel’s move to carry on with the airstrikes.
United States President Joe Biden on Monday in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed its “firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks”. “The president expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end,” the White House said in a statement. “The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza.”
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said Biden had “bloody hands” because of the country’s support to Israel, reported AFP. “You are writing history with your bloody hands,” Erdogan said. “You forced us to say this. Because we can not stay silent on this anymore.”
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin also called for an immediate end to the violence, saying that it “led to a large number of victims among the peaceful populations, including children”, reported the BBC. “We believe it imperative that violent actions by both sides cease, and an active search for a solution based on relevant resolutions by the UN Security Council – and generally recognised principles of international law, of course,” Putin said.
India had on Sunday called for immediate de-escalation of the situation between Israel and Palestine at a United Nations Security Council meeting. New Delhi condemned the rocket firings from Gaza and Israel’s retaliatory strikes. India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations TS Tirumurti asked the two countries to immediately resume direct dialogue and said that New Delhi supports the two-state solution.
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 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.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, set a 10.30 pm IST deadline for Israeli forces to be withdrawn from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah. Soon after, the Hamas fired rockets from Gaza towards Jerusalem.
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.
The renewed tensions due to the case in the Supreme Court, was an extension of the long-standing conflict as Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, sees all of the city as its Capital, while Palestinians want the eastern section as a capital of a future state. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is largely unrecognised internationally.
The neighbourhood is also home to Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, as well as the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in Islam.