Israel, Hamas Promise More Rockets As Violence Enters Second Week | Voice of America
Israel struck Gaza City with airstrikes on Monday and Palestinian militant groups renewed their rocket attacks on Israel as US President Joe Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the third time since violence erupted a week ago.
“The president has expressed support for a ceasefire and discussed the United States’ engagement with Egypt and other partners to that end,” a White House statement said.
Since the fighting began on May 10, at least 200 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 59 children and 35 women, according to the Gaza health ministry. At least 10 Israelis were killed in the rocket attacks, including a 6-year-old child.
The IDF said it destroyed 15 kilometers of tunnels in Gaza used by Hamas, as well as a five-story building housing the Hamas-led Ministry of Religious Affairs, and killed the armed Islamic Jihad commander for northern Gaza, Hussam Abu Harbeed.
In response, Islamic Jihad fired rockets at the Israeli coastal town of Ashdod, and officials said seven people were injured.
Netanyahu said in a speech Monday after meeting with senior defense officials that Israel “will continue to hit terrorist targets” and “will continue to operate for as long as necessary in order to restore calm and security to all Israeli citizens.” .
The armed wing of Hamas has promised more rockets.
“The criminal Zionist enemy has stepped up its bombardments of homes and residential apartments in recent hours, and therefore we are warning the enemy that if they don’t stop them immediately, we will start blowing up Tel Aviv again,” he said. spokesman Abu Ubaida said, according to Reuters. Press Agency.
Also on Monday, an Israeli died of his injuries after being attacked last week by a group of Arab citizens in the central city of Lod, a mixed Judeo-Arab community that has become a critical point in recent fighting.
In other violence, the IDF said six rockets were launched from Lebanon on Monday but did not cross the border into Israel. The situation in the region is calm, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon said on Twitter. He said he was coordinating with the Lebanese Armed Forces to increase patrols in the area.
When Biden spoke with Netanyahu on Monday and expressed support for a ceasefire to end the violence, he also “reiterated his strong support for Israel’s right to defend against rocket attacks blind, “according to the White House.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a call with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday, discussed Washington’s efforts to end the violence, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. .
Blinken told reporters on Monday during his visit to Copenhagen that the United States had “worked intensely behind the scenes” to try to end the violence, including phone calls on Sunday with its counterparts in Egypt, Qatar, Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia and France.
He called on Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to immediately end the rocket attacks against Israel and said that while Israel has the right to defend itself, it bears the burden of avoiding civilian casualties.
Interview with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar@MBA_AlThani_ on urgent work to end the conflict in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The loss of human life due to the crisis is deeply saddening.
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 16, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will meet with Netanyahu in the coming days and called for a ceasefire “as soon as possible”. He added that France supports Egyptian mediation in the conflict because of its influence on the militant group.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she spoke with Netanyahu on Monday and expressed support for Israel’s right to self-defense.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Biden was “writing history with his bloody hands” following reports that the administration was preparing to approve a $ 735 million arms sale to Israel.
The United Nations said more than 38,000 Palestinians were displaced in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes and more than 2,500 people became homeless. UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the displaced people sought protection in 48 schools run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. He said 41 of these facilities were damaged.
Also on Monday, United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir said the 193-member body will meet on Thursday to discuss the situation at the request of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League. .
Monday’s violence followed Netanyahu’s comments on Sunday that he did not plan to end the deadly airstrikes on Gaza “immediately”.
He spoke on the same day that Israeli jet fighters razed three buildings and killed at least 42 people, the deadliest attack in the latest wave of violence between Israel and Hamas.
Early Sunday, Hamas launched rockets from civilian areas of Gaza into civilian Israeli areas. One of them hit a synagogue in Ashkelon, a southern city, hours before evening services for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. No injuries were reported.
The latest outbreak of fighting began last Monday after conflicts in East Jerusalem last month. Palestinian clashes with police erupted in response to Israeli police tactics during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and Jewish settlers threatened to evict dozens of Palestinian families. A focal point of the commotion was the Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on a hill that is worshiped by Muslims and Jews.