Deadly night of violence flares between Israel and Palestinian militants

James Marshall
May 12, 2021

A man and a girl were killed Wednesday in the central city of Lod after a auto they were in was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Israeli police said.

It was the heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in Gaza, and prompted global concern that the situation could spiral out of control.

In the Israeli city of Lod, a 52-year-old Arab Israeli and his 16-year-old daughter were killed early Wednesday when a rocket landed in the courtyard of their one-story home.

"The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet".

President Joe Biden's administration earlier appealed to ally Israel to reroute a flashpoint parade in Jerusalem and prevent evictions of Palestinians in the holy city, the immediate trigger for the new round of violence.

Hamas fired some rockets minutes after a 6 p.m. local deadline had passed Monday evening that had been given to Israel to pull its security forces from the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City.

The draft underwent a number of amendments per requests from the U.S. and United Kingdom, whose representative made sure it included a condemnation of the firing of incendiary devices and rockets from Gaza, a diplomat said.

The fighting has since escalated dramatically with militants firing hundreds of rockets towards Tel Aviv and Israel carrying out hundreds of air strikes in Gaza.

But Blinken said there was a "very clear and absolute distinction between a terrorist organization, Hamas, that is indiscriminately raining down rockets - in fact, targeting civilians - and Israel's response defending itself".

There appeared no imminent end to the violence. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future state.

The Arab League, some of whose members have warmed ties with Israel over the past year, accused it of "indiscriminate and irresponsible" attacks in Gaza and said it was responsible for "dangerous escalation" in Jerusalem.

Erdogan said the worldwide community should teach Israel a "strong and deterrent" lesson to stop its "reckless attacks" on Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Palestinians.

Haniyeh said that Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations had been in contact urging calm but that Hamas's message to Israel was: "If they want to escalate, the resistance is ready, if they want to stop, the resistance is ready".

The US once again blocked the release of a UN Security Council joint statement on the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza, telling member states at the second emergency meeting on the matter in three days that such a public measure would be "unhelpful" in de-escalating the situation, two diplomats involved told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

"We believe Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live with safety and security and will continue to engage with Israelis, Palestinians and other regional partners to urge de-escalation and to bring calm". No one was in the building at the time of the air strikes.

Israel said it had sent 80 jets to bomb Gaza, and dispatched infantry and armour to reinforce the tanks already gathered on the border, evoking memories of the last Israeli ground incursion into Gaza in 2014.

Palestinian rescuers evacuate an elderly woman from a building following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City on Wednesday.

The existence of one Hamas office, used by political leaders and officials dealing with the news media, was widely known locally.

In Gaza, people sifted through debris after an Israeli air strike destroyed a 12-storey building.

Hamas, which controls the Palestinian territory, said the tower block had been a residential building. Residents and journalists working in the building had already left.

Hamas has amassed some 7,000 rockets, as well as 300 anti-tank and 100 anti-aircraft missiles, since the 2014 war, an Israeli military commander said during a briefing in February.

Earlier, Defence Minister Benny Gantz warned "this is just the beginning" of Israel's strikes.

The rocket fire forced Israel to suspend flights at its main airport of Ben Gurion, near Tel Aviv.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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