Tel Aviv / Gaza (AP) – Nearly a week after the escalation in the Gaza conflict began, the Israeli military has intensified its attacks on Hamas representatives in the Gaza Strip.
Following massive rocket attacks by Palestinian militants from the coastal area, the Israeli Air Force over the weekend shelled the home of the head of the Islamist Palestinian group there, Jihia al-Sinwar. The building in Chan Junis served as “military infrastructure,” the army announced on Sunday. The military had previously threatened Hamas’s leadership with targeted killings.
The Israeli Air Force also demolished a high-rise in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, where media companies such as the Associated Press (AP) had their offices. According to reports, residents were previously asked to leave the building by telephone. The military announced on Twitter that fighter planes had attacked a skyscraper in which Hamas military intelligence had “military assets.” The AP news agency was appalled after the incident and protested against journalist associations. US President Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again on Saturday evening.
The attempts by international mediators to reach a ceasefire in view of the civilian casualties have so far been unsuccessful. According to information from the German news agency, an Egyptian initiative initially failed. Netanyahu said the military operation would take “as long as it takes.” The first thing to do is destroy Hamas’s infrastructure.
The UN Security Council wanted to discuss the situation on Sunday. Israeli Defense Secretary Benny Gantz met with US special envoy Hady Amr, who had traveled to the region for talks. A special consultation of EU foreign ministers is scheduled for Tuesday. Pope Francis again called for silence on arms.
Palestinian militants continued to fire missiles, especially in areas of Israel adjacent to the Gaza Strip. On the night of Sunday there were again alarms in the greater Tel Aviv area.
According to the military, about 2,900 missiles have been fired at Israel since the escalation began last Monday evening. The intensity of the shelling is therefore higher than ever before in a conflict with Hamas. As the home front command announced, the number of missiles fired in about a week was significantly higher than the number of bullets fired during the same period of the 2014 Gaza war. A total of 4,481 missiles were fired in this 51-day conflict. fired at Israel. The Israeli army carried out at least 650 attacks in the densely populated coastal area. The Palestinian side was said to have had the heaviest air raids to date.
At least 181 people were killed and more than 1,200 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. According to the army, numerous representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been killed in attacks in the Gaza Strip. Rescue workers say 10 people have been killed in rocket fire so far in Israel. Hundreds were injured.
The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians escalated last Monday evening. It peaked during the Muslim fasting month 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) in the old city of Jerusalem. 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 to be the defender of Jerusalem.
The conflict with Hamas has intensified in recent days: there have been clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank. The military reported at least one attempted knife attack on soldiers. Several people died. Incidents also occurred at Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria. Missiles were fired at Israel from both countries, causing no damage.
The Gaza conflict also spread to Arab-dominated places in the Israeli heartland. Clashes broke out between Jews and Arab Israelis in several cities. This fueled concerns about further deep divisions in society.
Since Hamas forcibly seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, Israel and the radical Palestinian organization have fought three wars. Israel and Egypt are blockading the area and justify this with security considerations.
Several offices and homes of key Hamas members have recently been attacked, according to the Israeli army. As part of the ongoing attacks on the Hamas tunnel network, the so-called Metro, 30 other targets were bombed. In addition, the Air Force fired at dozens of weapon caches and missile launchers.
According to eyewitness accounts, five houses were destroyed in the city of Gaza. More than 30 people were killed in the attacks on Sunday evening alone, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
The conflict escalated during an attempt to form a government by Jair Lapid. The previous opposition leader wrote on Twitter on Sunday that if Israel had a government, no one would wonder why conflict always seems to break out when it suits the prime minister. Netanyahu had failed to form a majority for a coalition he led.