Dozens killed as fight escalates between Israel and Hamas militants

© Mohamed Abed/ AFP/ Getty Images
© Mohamed Abed/ AFP/ Getty Images

Following days of growing tensions in Jerusalem, violent clashes between the Israeli military and the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza continued on Tuesday.

Several rockets fired by Hamas penetrated Israel's air defense system, killing three civilians, while Israeli airstrikes killed dozens of Palestinians in Gaza, including children.

Hamas and the terrorist group "Islamic Jihad" launched 130 missiles at Tel Aviv, killing one civilian. After several missiles were able to get through Israel's "Iron Dome" aerial defense system, two more civilians, including an Indian national, were killed in rocket fire in the southern city of Ashkelon.

According to local media, rockets also destroyed a critical Israeli pipeline.

According to Palestinian officials, 32 people have been killed in the airstrikes so far, with 10 of them being children. A 13-story office building in Gaza, which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said housed top Hamas officials, was also destroyed by an airstrike.

Despite international demands for an end to the conflict, both parties have stated that they will continue to respond to acts of aggression.

So far, what have Israel's leaders said?

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz delivered a televised speech. The prime minister threatened that militants in Gaza would pay a "heavy price" if they fired rockets at Tel Aviv.

He also said that the country was "in the midst of a difficult campaign" and that operations in Gaza would take time.

Gantz echoed Netanyahu's remarks, claiming that the airstrikes, which have already killed hundreds, are "just the beginning."

Tor Wennesland, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, cautioned that the situation was heading for "full-scale war."

What has been the international community's reaction?

On Tuesday, the international uproar against the violence continued, with world leaders condemning the rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and calling for an end to the violence.

The United Nations Security Council announced on Wednesday that it would hold emergency meetings to resolve the escalating violence. At the closed meeting, which was called at the behest of China, Tunisia, and Norway, Wennesland is scheduled to brief the 15 council members digitally. The United Nations Security Council has yet to issue a statement about the violence.

The US State Department said on Tuesday that any remarks made by the council should not "escalate tensions."

President Joe Biden supports Israel's "legitimate right to protect itself and its citizens," according to White House press secretary Jen Pskai, while criticizing "rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist organizations."

The Biden administration will "continue to advocate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she said.

Heiko Maas, Germany's foreign minister, defended Israel's response to Hamas, stating, "Israel has the right to self-defense in this situation." Escalation of aggression is neither permissible nor tolerable."

What's the source of the current enmity?

The violence in east Jerusalem on Tuesday came after days of protests over plans to expel many Palestinian families from their homes.

Protesters and Israeli police clashed around the Al-Aqsa mosque on Sunday, one of the holiest nights during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, escalating tensions in the region, which is considered a holy place for Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.

After requesting that Israeli security forces leave the disputed sites in Jerusalem, Hamas fired its first rockets on Monday.

Publish : 2021-05-12 11:10:00

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