A Palestinian mourns the bodies of a member of the Kawlak family who were killed in an overnight Israeli air strike in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City as they prepared for their funeral in front of Al-Shifa Hospital on May 16, 2021.
Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images
Israeli air strikes killed 33 Palestinians, including 13 children, in Gaza early Sunday, Gaza health officials said, and militants fired rockets at Israel as hostilities stretched for a seventh day.
The pre-dawn attacks targeted homes in central Gaza City, health officials said. An Israeli military spokesman said he would look into these reports.
The death toll in Gaza rose to 181, including 52 children, since fighting broke out last Monday. In Israel, 10 people, including two children, were killed in rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups.
With no sign of an end to the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years, the United Nations Security Council was due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the situation.
Both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the enclave, said they would continue their cross-border fire after Israel destroyed a 12-story building in Gaza City on Saturday that housed the US Associated Press and the in Qatar-based media operations Al Jazeera were housed.
The Israeli military said the al-Jala building was a legitimate military target that contained Hamas military offices and had warned civilians beforehand to leave the building.
The AP condemned the attack and asked Israel to provide evidence. “We had no indication that Hamas was in the building or was active in the building,” it said in a statement.
In what Hamas called reprisals for Israel’s destruction of the Al Jala building, Hamas fired 120 rockets overnight.
Israelis stormed to bomb shelters when sirens warned of rocket fire in Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba. Around 10 people were injured while running into emergency shelters, medics said.
In an outbreak of air strikes early Sunday, the Israeli military said it hit the home of Yehya Al-Sinwar in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Sinwar, who was released from an Israeli prison in 2011, heads Hamas’s political and military wing in Gaza.
Palestinians working to clear rubble from a building destroyed in Sunday’s air strikes have recovered the bodies of a woman and a man.
“These are moments of horror that no one can describe. Like an earthquake in the area,” said Mahmoud Hmaid, a father of seven who helped with the rescue effort.
Across the border in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Zvi Daphna, a doctor whose neighborhood was hit by multiple missiles, described a feeling of “fear and horror”.
The Israeli security cabinet was due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the hostilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address late Saturday that Israel was “still in the middle of this operation, it is not over and this operation will continue as long as necessary”.
Hamas began its rocket attack Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and in retaliation for clashes by Israeli police with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, during the muslim holy month of ramadan.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, a status that is not universally recognized internationally. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem – conquered by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war – to be the capital of a future state.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups have fired more than 2,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip since Monday, the Israeli military said on Saturday.
Israel has launched more than 1,000 air and artillery strikes in the densely populated coastal strips, claiming they were aimed at Hamas and other militant targets.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reminded all sides on Saturday that “any indiscriminate orientation towards civil and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a statement.
In the past few days there has been a spate of US diplomacy trying to quell the violence.
President Joe Biden’s envoy, Hady Amr, came to Israel on Friday for talks. Biden spoke to Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late Saturday, the White House said.
However, any mediation is made difficult by the fact that the United States and most Western powers do not speak to Hamas, which they consider a terrorist organization.
In Israel, the conflict was accompanied by violence among the country’s mixed communities of Jews and Arabs, with synagogues attacked and Arab-owned businesses destroyed.
There has also been an increase in fatal clashes in the occupied West Bank. At least 15 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since Friday, most of them in clashes.