Tel Aviv (AP) – Israel’s military operation against the ruling Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be “as long as it takes”, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu said Saturday night that the infrastructure of the Islamist Hamas must be destroyed first. “We still have tough days ahead, but we’ll get through them together and win,” said the 71-year-old.
Following the most massive missile attack to date by militant Palestinians in the greater Tel Aviv area, the Israeli military had stepped up its attacks on high-ranking Hamas members. The air force fired on the homes of Raed Saad, Hamas special operations chief, and two Hamas commanders in Chan Junis in the south and Dir el-Balach in the central Gaza Strip, the army announced on Saturday evening. The Israeli military also threatened Hamas leaders with targeted murder.
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets three times in quick succession at the coastal metropolis of Tel Aviv on Saturday. A man was killed in the process. The Israeli Air Force soon after destroyed a 14-story high-rise in the Gaza Strip in which media companies such as the Associated Press (AP) had their offices.
The AP news agency reacted with horror. “This is an incredibly worrying development,” AP President Gary Pruitt said in New York on Saturday. “We narrowly escaped a terrible loss of life.” A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were brought to safety on time.
It is the fifth skyscraper that the Israeli military has collapsed since the recent escalation began on Monday. According to the information, Qatari TV broadcaster Al-Jazeera (Al-Jazeera) also had an office in the building that was recently destroyed. The Israeli army announced on Twitter that fighter jets had attacked a high-rise building in which Hamas’s Islamic military intelligence agency had “military assets.” Islamist Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and the EU. She has made the destruction of Israel her goal.
A spokesman for the Hamas military arm threatened Tel Aviv with an “answer that will shake the earth.” His organization also announced that it would fire missiles again at Tel Aviv from midnight. Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander General Ismaeil Ghani assured Hamas unconditional support in the fight against Israel in a phone call with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyah on Saturday, Iranian state media reported.
The US is working hard to de-escalate the conflict in Gaza. On Saturday, US President Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the second time this week and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the first time. “The president reiterated his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip,” the White House said during the telephone conversation with Netanyahu. Biden had expressed concerns about the safety of journalists and stressed the need to ensure their protection.
In an interview with Abbas, Biden also stressed that Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel, the White House said. Biden and Abbas have expressed concern about the deaths of innocent civilians. The US president stressed his commitment to a negotiated two-state solution.
According to the US embassy in Israel, top US diplomat Hady Amr had previously landed at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had asked him to meet with representatives from both sides.
EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell called for respect for international law. There must be full humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, the EU High Representative demanded on Saturday evening after talks with representatives of the conflicting parties. He condemned the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. Israel has the right to protect its people from these attacks, but must act appropriately and avoid civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military threatened the leadership of the Palestinian organization Hamas, which ruled the Gaza Strip, with targeted murder. Army spokesman Hidai Zilberman told Israeli television on Saturday evening that key Hamas and Islamic Jihad institutions in the Gaza Strip would continue to be attacked that night. This also applies to the highest leadership in Hamas.
Hamas has fired more than 2,300 missiles at Israel since Monday, according to an Israeli Air Force officer. Israel attacked more than 650 targets in the Gaza Strip during the same period. The conflict between Israel and the ruling Hamas in the Gaza Strip had escalated early this week. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, about 145 people have been killed and 1,100 injured since then. As the rescue service Magen David Adom announced, rocket fire in Israel in recent days killed 10 people and injured 636.
The official Palestinian news agency Wafa announced on Saturday that a house had been hit in the Shati refugee camp in western Gaza. Ten members of a Palestinian family, including eight children, have been murdered, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. A five-month-old boy survived the attack. The Israeli military is investigating the reports.
Recently, the Israeli Air Force also attacked a broad system of tunnels owned by Hamas that ruled the Gaza Strip. According to their own statements, 500 tons of ammunition have been used. A senior Israeli Air Force officer said on Friday evening 160 planes were involved in the attack on the so-called metro system. It is still unclear whether and how many Hamas fighters were killed in the process. “There may be hundreds,” he said.
Foreign media accused the Israeli military of deliberately manipulating them with a tweet shortly before the attack. “Air and ground forces are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip,” it said Friday night when a ground offensive was expected by Israel. According to media reports, this had led countless Hamas fighters to dive into the underground system. The army denied it and spoke of a communication error. There are no Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip.
According to the officer, Israel has destroyed a total of 31 Hamas and extremist Islamic Jihad missile workshops. As a result, Hamas is currently no longer able to manufacture new missiles.
The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians had culminated during the Islamic month of fasting of Ramadan and after the cancellation of the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Police barriers in the old city of Jerusalem, which many young Palestinians viewed as humiliation, are considered the trigger.
Additionally, there were clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem over the threat of evictions and violent clashes on the Temple Mount (Al-Haram al-Sharif). The Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque complex is the third holiest site in Islam. But it is also sacred to Jews because there used to be two Jewish temples. Islamist Hamas has declared itself a defender of Jerusalem.
On Saturday, the day of the Nakba (catastrophe), the Palestinians commemorated the displacement and flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. About 500 people demonstrated in Ramallah in the West Bank.
Thousands of people protested against the Israeli military’s airstrikes on Gaza in several countries, including the British capital London, the French capital Paris and Iraq. Dozens again demonstrated at the border with Israel in Lebanon. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli security forces fired tear gas at people approaching the border fence.