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Palestinians inspect a damaged vehicle in the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City on Wednesday. — Reuters

A timeline of Israel's latest military offensive in Gaza

More than 200 people have been killed and over 1,500 injured so far, with some 72,000 fleeing their homes.
Updated 19 May, 2021 10:04pm

Violence in Palestine has risen to its highest level in years as Israel pounds the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery, while Hamas fighters lob rockets into the Jewish state.

Here is a recap of events since heavy exchanges of fire began on May 10.

Israel-Hamas escalation

On the evening of May 10, Gaza's rulers Hamas launch volleys of rockets towards Israel in “solidarity” with Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem. Israel responds with deadly strikes on the Palestinian enclave.

This follows days of violence between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem, sparked by a years-long bid by Jewish settlers to take over Arab homes and by protests culminating in Israeli forces storming the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The next day, Hamas rains rockets down on Tel Aviv after an Israeli air strike destroys a Gaza City tower block where senior Hamas officials are said to have offices.

Riots in mixed towns

The next day, unrest flares in mixed Jewish-Arab Israeli towns.

Israel declares a state of emergency in Lod, near Tel Aviv, after police report rioting following the death of an Arab Israeli.

More than 400 people, Jews and Arabs, are arrested.

Build-up near Gaza

On May 12, Russia calls for an emergency meeting of the Middle East Quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations.

The next day, Israel masses armoured vehicles and troops along Gaza's border. The defence ministry gives the army the green light to mobilise thousands of reservists.

On May 15, an Israeli air strike on a building in Gaza's Shati refugee camp kills 10 members of an extended family.

Hours later, a strike flattens a 13-floor building in Gaza City housing United States news agency the Associated Press and Qatar-based Al Jazeera television.

US President Joe Biden expresses his “grave concern” over the strike and the White House says it has cautioned Israel about protecting the media.

West Bank violence

Demonstrations across the occupied West Bank lead to violence by the Israeli army, leaving 11 dead on Friday alone, according to Palestinian sources.

On May 16, Israel says strikes destroyed the home of Hamas' political leader in Gaza. Medics say raids across the territory left at least 42 dead, the highest daily death toll.

UN chief Antonio Guterres appeals for an immediate end to the “utterly appalling” violence.

US blocks UN declaration

On the 17th, Islamic Jihad, the second biggest armed group in Gaza, says one of its commanders has been killed in an Israeli strike.

The US, for the third time in a week, blocks a joint UN Security Council statement calling for a halt to the violence and for the protection of civilians.

Meanwhile, at least 219 Palestinians in the crowded coastal enclave of Gaza have been killed, including 63 children.

More than 1,530 have been injured, with some 72,000 people fleeing their homes.

In pictures: Death and misery for Palestinians as Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes

Israel's army says some 3,750 rockets have now been fired from Gaza, killing 12 people, including one child, and injuring 333.

Aid stopped

With diplomatic pressure building on Israel, it agrees to open a crossing on Tuesday to allow aid into Gaza. But an international convoy is quickly stopped after a reported mortar attack in the area.

'Day of anger'

Violence erupts again in east Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank after Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement calls for a “day of anger”.

Four Palestinians are shot dead by the Israeli army, bringing the death toll in the territory to 24 since May 10. Another 150 are injured, the Red Crescent says, 35 with bullet wounds.

Ceasefire push

On Tuesday, France's President Emmanuel Macron meets his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah II to push for a truce — putting pressure on the US.

An Israeli military source says on Wednesday that they are “looking at when is the right moment for a ceasefire“.