Gaza reels under Israeli strikes as violence enters second week

Published May 18, 2021
MEMBERS of a Palestinian family cry at a hospital after the death of family members in an Israeli air strike on their home in Gaza City on Monday.—AFP
MEMBERS of a Palestinian family cry at a hospital after the death of family members in an Israeli air strike on their home in Gaza City on Monday.—AFP

GAZA CITY: Israeli jets kept pounding Gaza on Monday afternoon, as the enclave’s residents cowered indoors and the violence that has killed more than 200 people, most of them Palestinians, entered a second week.

Before dawn, within just a few minutes, dozens of Israeli strikes bombarded the crowded Palestinian coastal strip controlled by Islamist group Hamas.

Flames lit up the sky as intense explosions shook Gaza City, sparking widespread power cuts and damaging hundreds of buildings, local authorities said.

Some 3,200 rockets have been fired by Palestinian fighters towards Israel since May 10 in the heaviest exchange of fire in years.

In Gaza, dust clouds from explosions rose near its Mediterranean port, with Israel’s army confirming it had targeted “a Hamas submergible naval weapon”.

West Gaza resident Mahdi Abed Rabbo, 39, expressed “horror and fear” at the intensity of the onslaught, saying: “There have never been strikes of this magnitude.”

Another Gaza resident, Mani Qazaat, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should realise we’re civilians, not fighters”. “I felt like I was dying,” he said about enduring a heavy aerial bombardment.

Israel’s army said on Monday it had hit the homes of nine “high-ranking” Hamas commanders, a day after bombing the house of Yahya Sinwar, head of the group’s political wing. It gave no details of any casualties.

An Islamic Jihad commander was killed on Monday, a source within the group and the Israeli army said.

Fighter jets also hit what the Israeli army calls the “Metro”, its term for Hamas’ underground tunnels, which Israel has previously acknowledged runs in part through civilian areas.

The renewed strikes come a day after 42 Palestinians in Gaza — including at least eight children and two doctors, according to the health ministry — were killed in the worst daily death toll in the enclave since the bombardments began.

In total, 200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 59 children, and more than 1,300 wounded since Israel launched its air campaign against Hamas after the group fired rockets, according to the authorities there.

Israel says 10 people, including one child, have been killed and more than 300 wounded by rocket fire that has been the most intense to ever rain down on the Jewish state.

Islamic Jihad said it fired more rockets towards Tel Aviv, and air raids sirens wailed across Israel again on Monday, especially near the Gaza border.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021

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