Israel Bombardment Of Gaza Escalates

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Above photo: A Palestinian man walks at the site where a tower building was destroyed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza City. Suhaib Salem/Reuters.

Death toll at 35.

NOTE: This article portrays what is happening in Gaza as if the sides are evenly matched. The Israeli state is the colonizer and aggressor here. Palestinians have a legal right to defend themselves, which they do with equipment that is far inferior to the US-backed Israeli military.  – MF

The Israeli military has continued its bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip early on Wednesday, targeting several areas after rockets were fired from the enclave.

It is the most intense airstrikes in Gaza since the bombardment in 2014.

Health authorities in Gaza said at least 35 Palestinians – including 10 children – were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Strip since late on Monday, after Hamas launched rockets from the coastal territory towards Israel. At least 233 others were injured.

At least five people in Israel have also been killed.

The rocket fire came after Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued an ultimatum demanding Israel stand down its security forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after days of violence against Palestinians.

Israeli police stormed the compound on Monday for a third consecutive day, firing rubber-coated steel rounds, stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian worshippers inside the mosque in the final days of the holy month of Ramadan.

More than 700 Palestinians were hurt in Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank in recent days.

Here are the latest updates:

One Palestinian killed by Israeli army in West Bank: ministry

A Palestinian was killed in clashes with the Israeli army in the south of the occupied West Bank, Palestinian authorities said Wednesday, as violence escalates between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The unnamed person was killed after being hit by Israeli bullets in Fawwar refugee camp, near the Palestinian town of Hebron, the health ministry reported.

The official Wafa news agency said the victim was 26-year-old Hussein Al-Titi.

Israeli strikes hit Gaza’s interior ministry buildings

The interior ministry reported that several of its offices in Gaza, including the passport office, were hit by heavy Israeli strikes on Wednesday morning.

The interior ministry also confirmed earlier reports by Al Jazeera that all of Gaza’s police stations have been destroyed by the bombardment.

A video, which Al Jazeera posted on social media showed the heavy strikes hitting several buildings in Gaza on Wednesday morning.

Residents of Gaza have evacuated from their homes amid intense bombardment by Israeli forces of several areas in the Palestinian territory.

The Israeli army has reported hitting several targets across Gaza, including in the southern Khan Younis neighbourhood early on Wednesday.

A video posted on social media by the Safa Press agency showed the aftermath of a series of Israeli strikes on Wednesday morning in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israel earlier announced that it has launched its largest bombardment of the Palestinian territory since its operation started on Monday.

There were no immediate reports of additional casualties in the last bombardments.

Israeli authorities reported on Wednesday that a Gaza rocket attack has hit an Israeli pipeline near Ashkelon causing a large fire.

The Gaza-based Palestinian group, Hamas, has vowed to hit Israeli targets in retaliation against air strikes on Gaza Strip and the police attack on Palestinian worshippers at Al Aqsa Mosque.

Israeli air strikes on Wednesday morning, the heaviest since the operation started on Monday, hit several police stations in the Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera’s Safwat al Kahlout, reporting from Gaza, said that the main police headquarters in the Palestinian territory was also “completely destroyed.”

Kahlout also reported that the death toll from the Israeli strikes has risen to 36, with 250 others injured.

Al Jazeera has also received reports that houses of senior commanders of Hamas were also hit.

Overnight, tens of families have been left homeless after their homes were also destroyed by Israeli air strikes, Kahlout reported.

A social media post by Omar El Qattaa showed the moment Israeli strikes hit several targets in Gaza.

According to social media posts and news reports, the Israeli army has reportedly deployed its tanks to its southern border with the Palestinian territory of Gaza, signaling a new phase in its operation against Palestinians.

Israeli and Palestinian analysts have also confirmed on Wednesday the movement of tanks near the Israeli border.

Dov Waxman, an analysts from the University of California, told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces have been moving their tanks near the border, but it is still unclear if it is preparing for a prolonged operation.

“I don’t think that the Israeli government would want to initiate a major ground incursion,” he said, even as he cautioned that the situation on the ground could go out of control fomenting more violence.

The Israeli army has announced that its fighter jets have “neutralised key figures of Hamas’ intelligence” in the Gaza strip.

In a social media post early on Wednesday, the army identified the officials as Hassan Kaogi, head of the Hamas military intelligence security department, as well as his deputy, Wail Issa, head of the military intelligence counterespionage department.

“Looks like our intel was better,” the statement said.

There was no immediate confirmation from Hamas regarding the claim.

Phyllis Bennis, an analyst at the US-based Institute for Policy Studies, said that “as long as the US is not prepared to hold Israel to account”, any statements from the Biden administration about the ongoing violence would not lead to a de-escalation.

“We keep hearing from President Biden that he wants a foreign policy that’s based on human rights. What we are not seeing is any actual commitment to human rights – and certainly in this case, there’s no willingness to use political capital,” Bennis told Al Jazeera in an interview.

Yara Asi, a non-resident fellow at Arab Center Washington, DC and a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Central Florida, also said that when the US funnels $3.8bn in military aid to Israel annually and provides diplomatic and political cover to the Israeli government in international arenas such as the United Nations, it is “disingenuous” for Washington to try to be disengaged.

“There is no more intimate external actor outside of Israelis and Palestinians than the United States, and this has been the case for decades – and it is continuing,” she told Al Jazeera.

At least two more people were reported killed in the Israeli city of Lod, also known as al-Lydd, after a rocket fired from Gaza hit the area.

That brings to five the number of people killed in Israel due to rockets fired from Gaza.

Some news reports identified the latest fatalities as an Israeli woman and her seven-year-old son. Other reports said the two were of Israelis of Arab descent.

Unrests have erupted across Israel on Tuesday night and into Wednesday in support of Palestinian rights.

Social media posts showed fiery protests in Rahat, a predominantly Bedouin city in southern Israel as well as in Qalansawe, an Israeli Arab town in central Israel.

Earleir, the Israeli government declared a state of emergency in Lod, southeast of Tel Aviv also known in Arabic as al-Lydd, amid escalating violence following the killing of a Palestinian citizen by a Jewish Israeli in the city.

A woman, who is four months pregnant, and her five-year-old son, were reported killed following the latest Israeli air strike on their house in Tel al-Hawa, a neighbourhood in the southern part of Gaza.

The deaths of the woman, identified only as Reem, and her son, Zaid, was reported on social media by her brother, Ahmed Saad.

At least 35 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in the latest strikes, which Israel said were in response to rockets fired by Hamas into Israeli.

At least three Palestinians have been reported killed after a residential building was targeted by Israeli strike in Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood in Gaza City, raising to 35 the number of people killed in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli warplanes also targeted at least four times the al-Johara building in Gaza City, which houses several media organisations.

Initial reports said that Al Jazeera’s office, located adjacent to the al-Johara building also suffered some damage.

The United Nations’ humanitarian affairs office in the occupied Palestinian territories (UN-OCHA) says Israeli forces have injured 1,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem between May 7 and May 10.

The agency said “735 of these [injuries were] due to rubber bullets”.

“On 10 May, 657 Palestinians were injured, mostly in the upper bodies, with at least one Palestinian losing his eye,” it said in a statement.