Strike from Gaza kills two as Israel topples six-storey building

Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes on what it said were militant targets in Gaza, levelling a six-storey building, and militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel on Tuesday.

Strike from Gaza kills two as Israel topples six-storey building

A strike launched from Gaza killed two Thai workers inside a packaging plant in southern Israel on Tuesday, police said, hours after Israeli airstrikes toppled a six-storey building in the Palestinian territory that housed bookstores and educational centres.

With the war between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers showing no sign of abating and truce efforts apparently stalled, Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories went on strike in a rare collective action against Israel's policies. The general strike and expected protests could further widen the conflict after a spasm of communal violence in Israel and protests across the occupied West Bank last week.

Since the fighting began last week, the Israeli military has launched hundreds of airstrikes it says are targeting Hamas' militant infrastructure, while Palestinian militants have fired more than 3400 rockets from civilian areas in Gaza at civilian targets in Israel.

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The latest attack from Gaza on Tuesday hit a packaging plant in a region bordering the territory. In addition to the two people killed, who were in their 30s, Israel's Magen David Adom rescue service said it transported another seven wounded people to the hospital.

Israel continued its airstrikes into Gaza, leaving behind a massive mound of rebar and concrete slabs in its attack on the six-storey building that housed bookstores and educational centres used by the Islamic University and other colleges. Desks, office chairs, books and computer wires could be seen in the debris. Residents sifted through the rubble, searching for their belongings.

Israel warned the building's residents ahead of time, sending them fleeing into the predawn darkness, and there were no reports of casualties.

"The whole street started running, then destruction, an earthquake," said Jamal Herzallah, a resident of the area. "This whole area was shaking."

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Since 2012, Hamed al-Ijla had run a training centre in the building, teaching first aid, hospital management and other skills to thousands of students. The only things remaining were a pile of red first aid bags, medical coats wrapped in plastic and one box of surgical gloves.

When the war is over, "I will set up a tent across the street and resume work," he said.

Heavy fighting broke out May 10 when Gaza's militant Hamas rulers fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests against Israel's heavy-handed policing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Jews and Muslims, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers.

At least 213 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes since, including 61 children and 36 women, with more than 1440 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians. Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier, have been killed in the ongoing rocket attacks.

The fighting is the most intense since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, but efforts to halt it have so far stalled. Egyptian mediators are trying to negotiate a cease-fire, but the US has stopped short of demanding an immediate stop to the hostilities and Israel has so far vowed to press on.

As the fighting drags on, medical supplies, fuel and water are running low in Gaza.

Palestinians in Israel, east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank observed a general strike Tuesday. It was a rare show of unity among Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20 per cent of its population, and those in the territories Israel seized in 1967 that the Palestinians have long sought for a future state of their own. Life had already ground to a halt in Gaza when the fighting began.

The strike was intended to protest the Gaza war and Israeli policies that many activists and some rights groups say constitute an overarching system of apartheid that denies Palestinians the rights afforded to Jews. Israel rejects that characterisation, saying its citizens have equal rights. It blames the war on Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, and accuses it of inciting violence across the region.

Leaders of the Palestinian community in Israel called the strike, which was embraced by the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, where ministries and schools were closed. Most businesses appeared to be observing the strike, and protests were expected.

Muhammad Barakeh, one of the organisers of the strike, said Palestinians are expressing a "collective position" against Israel's "aggression" in Gaza and Jerusalem, as well as the "brutal repression" by police across Israel.

The war has also seen an unusual outbreak of violence in Israel, with groups of Jewish and Palestinian citizens fighting in the streets and torching vehicles and buildings. In both Israel and the West Bank, Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli forces.

The Israeli military said Tuesday it fired at 65 militant targets, including rocket launchers, a group of fighters and the homes of Hamas commanders that the army said were being used for military purposes. It said more than 60 fighter jets took part in the operation.

The military said it also shot down a drone "approaching the Israeli border" in the northeast, far from the Gaza fighting. It did not say where the unmanned aircraft originated, but it's possible the drone came from Syria.

The military said Palestinian militants fired 90 rockets, 20 of which fell short into Gaza. Israel says its missile defences have intercepted about 90 per cent of the rockets.

Israel's strikes have brought down several buildings and caused widespread damage in the narrow coastal territory, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians and has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed in the fighting, while Israel says the number is at least 160 and has released the names of and photos of more than two dozen militant commanders it says were "eliminated."

Israeli attacks have damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and entirely destroyed one health facility, the World Health Organisation said in a new report. Nearly half of all essential drugs in the territory have run out.

It said the bombing of key roads, including those leading to the main Shifa Hospital, has hindered the movement of ambulances and supply vehicles. Over 41,000 displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in UN schools in Gaza, which was already struggling to cope with a coronavirus outbreak. Gaza is also running low on fuel for its electricity supply and water.

Israel has vowed to press on with its operations, and the United States signalled it would not pressure the two sides for a cease-fire even as President Joe Biden said he supported one.

"We will continue to operate as long as necessary in order to return calm and security to all Israeli citizens," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after meeting with top security officials on Monday .

The Biden administration has declined so far to publicly criticise Israel's part in the fighting or send a top-level envoy to the region. On Monday, the United States again blocked a proposed UN Security Council statement calling for an end to "the crisis related to Gaza" and the protection of civilians, especially children.

Among the buildings that Israeli airstrikes have levelled was the one housing The Associated Press Gaza office and those of other media outlets.

Netanyahu alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating inside the building. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Israel had given the US information about the bombing. Israel has not publicly provided any evidence of its claim.

Blinken, speaking from Iceland, declined to characterise the material received.

AP President Gary Pruitt reiterated the organisation's call for an independent investigation into the attack.

"As we have said, we have no indication of a Hamas presence in the building, nor were we warned of any such possible presence before the airstrike," he said in a statement. "We do not know what the Israeli evidence shows, and we want to know."

Source : 9 News More   

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Israel, Hamas trade fire in Gaza as war rages on

Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes on what it said were militant targets in Gaza, levelling a six-storey building, and militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel on Tuesday.

Israel, Hamas trade fire in Gaza as war rages on

Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes on what it said were militant targets in Gaza, levelling a six-storey building, and militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel on Tuesday.

Palestinians across the region observed a general strike as the war, now in its second week, showed no signs of abating.

The strikes toppled a building that housed libraries and educational centres belonging to the Islamic University.

Seen from roof height, the destruction loomed as a massive valley of rebar and concrete slabs.

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Desks, office chairs, books and computer wires could be seen peeking from the debris. Residents sifted through the rubble, searching for their belongings.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the overnight strikes.

Heavy fighting broke out May 10 when Gaza's militant Hamas rulers fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests there against Israel's heavy-handed policing of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a flashpoint holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers.

Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank observed a general strike on Tuesday to protest what many activists and some human rights groups say is a single system of apartheid of which the Gaza war is only one manifestation. Israel adamantly rejects that characterization and accuses Hamas of inciting violence across the region.

The strike was called by leaders of the Palestinian community inside Israel, which makes up 20 per cent of the country's population, and embraced by the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, where ministries and schools were closed.

Most businesses appeared to be observing the strike, and protests were expected.

Last week Israel saw an outbreak of ethnic violence, with groups of Jewish and Palestinian citizens fighting in the streets and torching vehicles and buildings. In the West Bank, Palestinian protesters have clashed with Israeli troops and paramilitary Border Police.

READ MORE:

The Israeli military said Tuesday it fired more than 100 munitions at 65 militant targets, including rocket launchers, a group of fighters and the homes of Hamas commanders that the army said were being used for military purposes. It said more than 60 fighter jets took part in the operation.

The military said Palestinian militants fired 90 rockets, 20 of which fell short into Gaza. Israel says its missile defences have a 90 per cent interception rate.

The military said it also shot down a drone "approaching the Israeli border" in the northeast, far from the Gaza fighting. It did not say where the unmanned aircraft originated, but it's possible the drone came from Syria.

At least 212 Palestinians have been killed in heavy airstrikes so far, including 61 children and 36 women, with more than 1400 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Ten people in Israel, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier, have been killed in the ongoing rocket attacks launched from civilian areas in Gaza toward civilian areas in Israel.

Israel says it has inflicted heavy damage on Hamas' military infrastructure, including a vast network of militant tunnels it refers to as the "Metro."

The strikes have brought down several buildings and caused widespread damage in the narrow coastal territory, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians and has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

Israeli airstrikes and shelling have damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and entirely destroyed one health facility, the World Health Organization said in a new report. Nearly half of all essential drugs in the territory have run out.

It said the bombing of key roads, including those leading to the main Shifa Hospital, has hindered the movement of ambulances and supply vehicles.

Over 41,000 displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in UN schools in Gaza, which was already struggling to cope with a coronavirus outbreak.

Israel has vowed to press on with its operations, and the United States signalled it would not pressure the two sides for a cease-fire even as President Joe Biden said he supported one.

"We will continue to operate as long as necessary in order to return calm and security to all Israeli citizens," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after meeting with top security officials on Monday .

Protests were expected across the region Tuesday in response to a call by Palestinian citizens of Israel for a general strike.

The protest has the support of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.

The Biden administration has declined so far to publicly criticize Israel's part in the fighting or send a top-level envoy to the region. On Monday, the United States again blocked a proposed U.N. Security Council statement calling for an end to "the crisis related to Gaza" and the protection of civilians, especially children.

Since the fighting began, the Israeli military has launched hundreds of airstrikes it says are targeting Hamas' militant infrastructure. Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired more than 3,400 rockets into Israel.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel says the number is at least 160 and has released the names of and photos of more than two dozen militant commanders it says were "eliminated."

The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, does not give a breakdown of how many casualties were militants or civilians.

Israel's airstrikes have levelled a number of Gaza City's tallest buildings, which Israel alleges contained Hamas military infrastructure. Among them was the building housing The Associated Press Gaza office and those of other media outlets.

Netanyahu alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating inside the building and said any evidence would be shared through intelligence channels.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he hasn't yet seen any evidence supporting Israel's claim.

AP President Gary Pruitt called for an independent investigation into the attack.

"As we have said, we have no indication of a Hamas presence in the building, nor were we warned of any such possible presence before the airstrike," he said in a statement.

"This is something we check as best we can. We do not know what the Israeli evidence shows, and we want to know."

Source : 9 News More   

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