Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip has entered its seventh consecutive day, with air raids in the early hours of Sunday killing at least four Palestinians, wounding dozens more and flattening at least two residential buildings.
The home of Gaza’s Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, was also targeted, according to the group’s TV.
In Israel’s Tel Aviv, people dashed for bomb shelters as sirens warning of incoming rocket fire blared across the city, and the Israeli military launched its “Iron Dome” air defence system to intercept Hamas rockets.
The escalation comes hours after Israeli missiles hit a refugee camp, killing at least 10 Palestinians, including eight children – and brought down a high-rise building housing the offices of media organisations, including Al Jazeera.
In a televised speech late on Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to continue the offensive on Gaza for “as long as necessary”, while Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said “the resistance will not give in”.
At least 149 Palestinians, including 41 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the past week. Some 950 others have been wounded.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have killed at least 13 Palestinians.
At least 10 people in Israel have also been killed, with two new deaths reported on Saturday. The Israeli army said hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel and they have added reinforcements near the enclave.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of violence in years in Palestine and Israel.
Here are the latest updates:
Israeli raids damage road leading to Gaza’s main hospital
Israeli air raids created a crater that blocked one of the main roads leading to al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing residents and journalists.
The Palestinian Wafa news agency said the intensive shelling caused “massive destruction” in the Gaza Strip, including to civilian homes, and also resulted in a complete blackout in the northern Rimal neighbourhood.
Biden reaffirms ‘strong support’ for Israel
US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirmed his “strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza”, the White House said.
He also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and “conveyed a commitment to strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership,” the White House added in a tweet.
Today the President spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, and condemned these indiscriminate attacks against Israel. pic.twitter.com/baHWh1b6Q2
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 15, 2021
Rescue workers pull out five children from rubble in Gaza
Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza, said rescue teams are racing to dig out survivors from beneath the rubble of residential buildings flattened in Israeli raids.
“The rescue teams have found five children alive,” he said. “They say they hear some people are still alive under the rubble and they’re still working to pull out more survivors.”
He said the Israeli bombardment had destroyed houses and roads in the El Wahda district.
Palestinian citizens are helping rescue teams in searching for survivors under the rubbles of houses bombed by “Israel” tonight. So far, reports confirm: 5 survived, 2 killed, 25 injured. There are many others still buried.#Gaza #GazaUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/olJuj3HLrJ
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) May 16, 2021
US Muslim groups urge boycott of White House Eid dinner
American Muslims for Palestine, a US-based advocacy group, urged the Muslim community to boycott President Joe Biden’s Eid celebration on Sunday over his stance on Palestine.
The group also announced a counter event, called “Eid with Palestine”.
“Recent statements made by President Biden, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, and Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price, completely disregard the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the Israeli assault on Al-Aqsa on worshippers during Ramadan, and the ongoing siege of Gaza that has already claimed the lives of hundreds,” the advocacy group said.
“In a show of solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Palestine, the United States, and around the world, a coalition of Muslims nationwide is urging our Muslim community to boycott the White House event and join the ‘Eid with Palestine: A Protest of the White House Eid event.”
Earlier, the Council on American-Islamic Relations also said it would boycott the White House’s Eid celebration.
Israel targets home of Hamas chief in Gaza
Israel struck the home of a senior Hamas leader in a burst of air raids, the group’s TV station said.
Yehya al-Sinwar has headed the political and military wings of Hamas in Gaza since 2017.
Israel launches ‘most intensive air strikes’ yet in Gaza
Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting live from Gaza, said Israeli jets carried out 150 air raids across the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Sunday, including at least 60 in Gaza City alone.
“The last couple of hours the Israeli army carried out the most intensive air strikes all over the Gaza Strip over the past seven days of escalation,” al-Kahlout said, adding that several people were killed in the raid.
Emergency workers are digging through the rubble in the hopes of finding survivors, he said.
The Gaza health ministry meanwhile said many Palestinians were arriving at hospitals with injuries.
Israeli military fatally shoots Palestinian youth in West Bank
Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian youth north of Tulkarem in the West Bank just after midnight on Sunday, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported, citing the ministry of health.
At least nine people were wounded after soldiers opened live fire, and were taken to the hospital, WAFA said.
Huge crowds rally across US in support of Palestine
Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Washington, DC, said there was an “unusually large show of support” for the Palestinian cause in the United States on Saturday.
“There were demonstrations in New York, Chicago, Colorado, and in Washington, DC. These were what we thought were an unusually large pro-Palestinian crowd of several thousand people,” he said.
“They wanted the US government to exert more pressure on Israel, to end this conflict. There was a real sense of dissatisfaction that the Biden administration’s policies are really not significantly different than the policies of the Trump administration or any other US administration over the past several years.”
‘Heavy bombardment’ near Gaza UN office
Matthias Schmale, the Gaza director for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), reported “heavy bombardment” near the agency’s compound in the early hours of Sunday.
— Matthias Schmale (@matzschmale) May 15, 2021
For the developments from Saturday, May 15, go here.
Published at Sun, 16 May 2021 00:43:50 +0000-Deaths in Gaza as Israel launches ‘most intense raids yet’: Live