181 Palestinians killed in Israeli bombings as UN Security Council to meet

0
17

GAZA: Israeli air strikes on Gaza has claimed the lives of 26 more people, taking the death toll to 181 as the UN Security Council prepared to meet amid global alarm at the escalating attacks. During Sunday’s air strikes, Israeli forces also targeted the home of a Hamas leader.  Israel said Sunday morning its “continuing wave of strikes” had in the past 24 hours struck over 90 targets across Gaza, where the destruction of a building housing news media organisations sparked an international outcry. In Gaza, emergency teams worked to pull out bodies from vast piles of smoking rubble and toppled buildings, as relatives wailed in horror and grief. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “dismayed” by civilian casualties in Gaza and “deeply disturbed” by Israel’s strike on Saturday on the tower housing the Associated Press and Al Jazeera bureaus, a spokesperson said. Israel’s army said Sunday that about 3,000 rockets had been fired from the coastal strip controlled by Hamas towards Israel, “of which approximately 450 failed launches fell in the Gaza Strip”.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had targeted the infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including by pounding a vast tunnel system with some 100 strikes, and by targeting weapon factories and storage sites. Israeli air strikes also hit the home of Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political wing in the Gaza Strip, the army said, releasing a video showing plumes of smoke and intense damage, but without saying if he was killed. At least 52 children have lost their lives in Gaza, 1,225 people have been wounded and entire buildings and city blocks reduced to rubble. One strike on Gaza killed 10 members of an extended family. The children “didn’t carry weapons, they didn’t fire rockets”, said Mohammad al-Hadidi, one of the grieving fathers. Some 10,000 Gazans have fled their homes near the Israeli border for fear of a ground offensive, the UN said. “They are sheltering in schools, mosques and other places during a global COVID-19 pandemic with limited access to water, food, hygiene and health services,” UN humanitarian official Lynn Hastings said. Balls of flame and a cloud of debris shot into the sky Saturday afternoon as Israel’s air force flattened the 13-floor Gaza building housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera and the Associated Press news agency, after giving a warning to evacuate. Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Walid al-Omari, told AFP: “It is clear that those who are waging this war do not only want to spread destruction and death in Gaza, but also to silence media that are witnessing, documenting and reporting the truth.” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said he was “shocked and horrified” by the attack. AFP Chairman Fabrice Fries said the agency “stands in solidarity with all the media whose offices were destroyed in Gaza” and called on all parties “to respect the media´s freedom to report on events”.The UN Security Council was due to meet at 1400 GMT Sunday. Israel ally Washington, which had blocked a UNSC meeting scheduled for Friday, has been criticised for not doing enough to stem the bloodshed. US President Joe Biden again underscored Israel’s right to defend itself in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden also expressed his “grave concern” over the violence as well as for the safety of journalists. Earlier Saturday, Biden also spoke to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in their first call since the US president took office. US Secretary for Israel-Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr was to hold talks Sunday with Israeli leaders before meeting Palestinian officials to seek a “sustainable calm”, the State Department said. In a televised statement late Saturday, Netanyahu thanked Biden for “unequivocal support”.European Union foreign ministers are to discuss the crisis on Tuesday, with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Sunday calling the situation “highly explosive” and pleading for “an end to the violence”.In Gaza, the grieving father Hadidi said he had lost most of his family in a strike on a three-storey building in the Shati refugee camp that killed 10 relatives — two mothers and their four children each. “They are striking our children without prior warning,” said the devastated father, whose five-month-old baby was wounded in the explosion.  Major attacks were carried out on Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound — Islam’s third-holist site — on May 7 following a crackdown against protests over planned Israeli expulsions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. At a protest in the district Saturday, an AFP journalist saw Israeli forces beating a woman inside a car and shoving a young female protester to the ground. Some 10,000 Gazans have fled homes near the Israeli border for fear of a ground offensive, the UN said. Israel’s northern borders with Lebanon and Syria, with which it remains technically at war, were also tense. Three rockets were launched from Syria Friday, while Israel’s army said it fired “warning shots” towards potential infiltrators from Lebanon, killing a Lebanese protester.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here