International

Israel & Hamas Engage In Deadly Aerial Exchange As UN Says: “Stop The Fire”

Hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated overnight with at least 35 killed in Gaza and five in Israel.

In the most intensive aerial exchanges for years, hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated overnight with at least 35 killed in Gaza and five in Israel.

As the Islamist group and other Palestinian militants fired multiple rocket barrages at Tel Aviv and Beersheba, Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza into the early hours of Wednesday.

After being repeatedly hit by the Israeli airstrikes, one multi-story residential building in Gaza collapsed and another was heavily damaged.

 

A 12-story residential building collapsed in Gaza after repeated hits from Israeli airstrikes. (Credit: Al Jazeera)

 

Its jets had targeted and killed several Hamas intelligence leaders early on Wednesday, Israel informed. Other strikes targeted what the military said were rocket launch sites and Hamas offices, as per Reuters.

Since the 2014 war in Gaza, it was the heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas, and prompted international concern that the situation could spiral out of control.

Tor Wennesland, the UN Middle East peace envoy, tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation.”

“The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,” he wrote.

Gazans, into the early hours of Wednesday morning, reported their homes shaking and the sky lighting up with Israeli attacks, outgoing rockets and Israeli air defence missiles intercepting them.

In response to the bombing of the tower buildings in Gaza City, Hamas’s armed wing said it fired 210 rockets towards Beersheba and Tel Aviv.

Hamas group, regarded as a terrorist organisation by Israel and the United States, targeted Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv, posing a new challenge in the confrontation for the Jewish-majority country.

The violence was followed by growing tensions in the last week in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the compound revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, warned that militants would pay a “very heavy” price for the rockets, which reached the outskirts of Jerusalem on Monday during a holiday in Israel commemorating its capture of East Jerusalem in a 1967 war.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader, said Israel had “ignited fire in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa and the flames extended to Gaza, therefore, it is responsible for the consequences.”

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