Death toll of civilians, including children and women is escalating in Gaza, amid the continued Israeli bombardment of buildings and infrastructure utilities in the Strip
Amid mounting international calls for a ceasefire, Israel has continued its assault on Gaza, where the death toll in Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip since May 10, reached 197, including 58 children and 34 women
The death toll increased after the Israeli occupation forces suddenly bombed a number of houses in Al-Wehda Street in Al-Rimal neighborhood in central Gaza City and fired F-16 missiles on their residents without prior warning.
Explosions rocked the city from north to south for 10 minutes early Monday. The airstrikes launched by Israel on Gaza early Monday were heavier, on a wider area and lasted longer than a series of air raids 24 hours earlier in which 42 Palestinians were killed, the deadliest single attack in the latest Israeli assault on Gaza.
There was no sign of any imminent end to the most serious bombardment in years on Gaza, where two million Palestinians live.
The sound of explosions roared overnight as dozens of Israeli fighter jets bombed what the military said was an underground tunnel system used by Hamas.
After Gaza rockets were fired at the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon, Israeli aircraft struck nine residences allegedly belonging to high-ranking Hamas commanders.
Later in the morning, Palestinian media reported that Israel had struck a factory in northern Gaza. Video on social media showed a column of thick black smoke rising into the air.
There were no reports of casualties on either side of the border.
World concern had already deepened after an Israeli air strike in Gaza that destroyed several homes on Sunday and which Palestinian health officials said killed 42 people, including 10 children.
Injecting more urgency into Washington’s calls for calm, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter: “All parties need to deescalate tensions – the violence must end immediately”, after he spoke with Egypt’s foreign minister about ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sunday, the United States said it had made clear to Israel, the Palestinians and others that it was ready to offer support “should the parties seek a ceasefire”.
The Gaza Health Ministry has put the death toll since the hostilities flared at 197, including 58 children and 34 women. However, only ten people have been killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.
Despite international outrage over its deadly raids, Israel continued its attacks on Gaza overnight Saturday into Sunday.
In a statement, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said that 23 Palestinians, including 10 women and eight children, lost their lives in attacks carried out by Israel since midnight.
The number of people injured in the Israeli attacks also rose to more than 1,200.
Meanwhile, Enver Ataullah, the ministry’s Arab and Turkish relations officer, told Anadolu Agency that the situation in the region is growing worse.
Ataullah said the attacks that have been carried out since midnight caused great destruction in Gaza and their continued heavy death toll has left no room in the morgues.
Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as Israeli forces and settlers assaulted Palestinians.
The tensions spread from East Jerusalem to Gaza after Palestinian resistance groups there vowed to retaliate against Israeli assaults on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah if they were not halted.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
Israeli human rights group says state committing war crimes in Gaza
An Israeli human rights group accused Israel of committing “war crimes” in the Gaza Strip on Saturday and demanded that the international community intervene, reported Anadolu Agency.
“The international community must step in immediately and use its leverage to force Israel to change its policy before it claims even more victims,” B’Tselem said in a statement.
It said that since 2014, Israel “has not wreaked this level of destruction on the blockaded Gaza Strip,” in reference to ongoing attacks on Gaza.
The group reiterated that Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian crisis because of a 14-year Israeli blockade imposed on the 2 million residents in Gaza.
Since last Monday, the Israeli army has killed 197 Palestinians, including 41 children and 23 women, and caused injuries to more than 1,200 people in raids on Gaza.
Seventeen Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces and settlers as Palestinians staged protests against Israeli violations in occupied East Jerusalem and attacks on Gaza.
Since April 13, clashes erupted across the occupied territories because of Israeli attacks and restrictions on Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and an Israeli court’s decision to evict 12 Palestinian families from their homes in favor of Israeli settlers.
AP calls for investigation into Israeli bombing of its Gaza office
The Associated Press’ top editor wants an independent investigation into Israel’s bombing of a building in Gaza that was home to her news organization as well as broadcaster Al Jazeera.
AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said that her organization had not yet seen any evidence from Israeli officials to justify the bombing, which leveled the 12-story al-Jalaa tower block on Saturday.
Israeli officials said they carried out the strike because Hamas was operating an intelligence cell out of that office building.
“We’ve heard the Israelis say they have evidence,” she told CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “We don’t know what that evidence is. We think it is appropriate at this point for there to be an independent look at what happened yesterday.”
Israelis provided advanced warning to civilians in the building, allowing them to get out before missiles obliterated the structure.
Speaking Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there was “an intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization housed in that building that plots and organizes terror attacks against Israeli civilians so it’s a perfectly legitimate target.”
Buzbee told CNN that while her journalists were unhurt and were now operating out of rival media group Agence France-Presse’s offices in Gaza, the attack destroyed a critical node for newsgathering out of the territory.
“We’re not taking sides in the actual conflict,” she said. “But we are in favor and what we do believe in is protecting the world’s right to know what is going on in this conflict or any conflict. This is an important story and because of the actions yesterday, the world is going to know less.”
On Saturday U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the AP’s president, Gary Pruitt, and offered his “unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world,” a State Department spokesman said in a statement.