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Israeli Bombardment Escalates as Gaza Death Toll Rises

Israeli Bombardment Escalates as Gaza Death Toll Rises

A night of heavy bombardment on the Gaza Strip has continued into Wednesday morning as Israeli forces launched intensive raids on various locations across the besieged coastal territory.

Local sources said Israeli fighter jets bombed sites belonging to Palestinian armed groups, in addition to security and police buildings. In Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood, a man, his pregnant wife and their five-year-old boy were killed by an Israeli attack on their home.

Rockets fired towards Tel Aviv after the Gaza tower block destroyed Gaza’s ministry of health said the overall death toll since the latest offensive began stood at 43, including 13 children. Almost 300 others have been wounded.

Six Israelis have also been killed. The Israeli army said that about 1,500 rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel and they have added reinforcements near the enclave’s eastern lands.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin discussed in a phone call the escalation in the Gaza Strip, Turkey’s presidency said, as Ankara seeks international action against Israel. Erdogan told Putin the international community needed to “teach a deterrent lesson” to Israel, adding that Ankara was working to mobilise this reaction, according to a statement from his office.

Erdogan also called for work to be done on sending international peacekeepers to the region to help safeguard Palestinians, a proposal Turkey has made since 2018. Parts of a broken mannequin lie on the ground near a tower building that was hit by Israeli air raids in Gaza City.

“One of them hit the car of a local farmer, according to local witnesses in the northern Gaza Strip. Five farmers were killed in the attack. In a separate attack on Gaza City, there was another Israeli airstrike on a car,” he continued. “Eyewitnesses said a woman and her two children were [killed] in the car.”

The Israeli army said it had shelled a building during the night that housed senior members of Hamas’ military intelligence service. The homes of key Hamas representatives were also attacked, the Israeli military said. An Israeli soldier has been killed after a military jeep stationed on the outskirts of the northern Gaza Strip was targeted by the military wing of Hamas.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has expressed concern about escalating violence in the occupied West Bank and the possibility that war crimes are being committed there, its prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said. “I note with great concern the escalation of violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in and around Gaza, and the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute,” Bensouda wrote on Twitter. Black smoke billows after a series of Israeli air raids targeted Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) executive committee are set to meet on Wednesday night in Ramallah to discuss the Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip. “We’ve spoken to a PLO executive committee member who told us that the language the international community has been using is not strong enough to curb the Israeli violations,” Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said, speaking from Ramallah. Ibrahim said that for many Palestinians, the usual track the PA resorts to in times of escalation of appealing to the international community to condemn Israel is not enough. “There’s a growing feeling among Palestinians that Israel only understands the language of force, which is why we’ve seen in the protests in the occupied West Bank in the past few days people calling on Gaza [armed groups] to respond,” she said.

Hamas head Ismail Haniya said he had told mediators the problem is not with Gaza but with Israel, adding that the group Hamas is “ready” if Israel increases its attacks.  “If (Israel) wants to escalate, we are ready for it, and if it wants to stop, we’re also ready,” Haniya, who currently lives outside the Strip, said in a televised address.

Haniya went on to say that linking Jerusalem with the Gaza Strip is reflective of equating “resistance with identity” and hailed the protests that have broken out among Palestinians within Israel and the occupied territories. “We are all moving together in a coherent manner in order to confront the occupation,” he said. Haniya renewed the call for all “our Palestinian people to unite the ranks” and called on the Palestinian Authority to “stop security cooperation” with Israel.

 (Story including headline from aljazeera.com while pictures 1, AFP; 2, Reuters)

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