Israel strikes home of Hamas chief and media office in Gaza – fr

Israeli strike in Gaza destroys building with PA and other media – fr

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP – Israel criticized the Gaza Strip with airstrikes on Saturday, in a dramatic escalation that included the bombing of the home of a top Hamas leader, killing a family of 10 in a refugee camp – most children – and spraying a skyscraper that housed the Associated Press and other media.

The militant Hamas group continued a flood of rockets into Israel, including a late night barrage on Tel Aviv. A man was killed when a rocket hit his home in a suburb of the seaside metropolis.

With an American envoy on the ground, calls for a ceasefire have increased after five days of chaos that left at least 145 Palestinians dead in Gaza – including 41 children and 23 women – and eight dead on the Israeli side, all but one of them civilians, including a 5 year old child. US President Joe Biden, who called for a de-escalation but supported the Israeli campaign, spoke separately by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Yet Israel has stepped up its assault, vowing to shatter the capabilities of the Hamas leadership in Gaza. The week of deadly violence, unleashed by a Hamas rocket on Monday, came after weeks of mounting tensions and harsh Israeli measures in disputed Jerusalem.

Israel bombed the home of Khalil al-Hayeh, a senior Hamas political wing official, on Saturday, claiming the building was part of the group’s “terrorist infrastructure”. There were no immediate reports of al-Hayeh’s fate or any casualties.

The bombing of al-Hayeh’s house showed that Israel was extending its campaign beyond the group’s military commanders alone. Israel says it has killed dozens of members of Hamas’s military wing, although Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group have recognized only 20 dead members.

Since the start of the conflict, Israel has razed a number of the tallest offices and residential buildings in Gaza City, claiming they house elements of Hamas’ military infrastructure. On Saturday, he turned to the 12-story al-Jalaa building, where the offices of the PA, Al-Jazeera TV station and other media are located, as well as several floors of apartments.

“The campaign will continue for as long as necessary,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Saturday night. He alleged that Hamas military intelligence was operating inside the building. Israel regularly cites Hamas’s presence as a reason for targeting certain locations in airstrikes, including residential buildings. The military also accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields, but provided no evidence to support their claims.

The PA has operated from the building for 15 years, including in three previous wars between Israel and Hamas, without being directly targeted. During these conflicts as well as the current conflict, the news agency’s cameras from its top-floor office and rooftop terrace offered 24-hour live footage as militants’ rockets arched. towards Israel and that Israeli airstrikes pounded the city and its surroundings.

In the afternoon, the military called the owner of the building and warned that a strike would take place within the hour. PA personnel and other occupants were safely evacuated.

Soon after, three missiles hit the building and destroyed it, causing it to crash into a giant cloud of dust.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” PA Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said in a statement. “We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military is targeting and destroying the building housing the PA office and other news agencies in Gaza. “

“This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of human life, ”he said, adding that the PA was seeking information from the Israeli government and was in contact with the US State Department to find out more.

Mostefa Souag, acting managing director of Al-Jazeera Media Network, called the strike a “war crime” aimed at “silencing the media and hiding the unspeakable bloodshed and suffering of the people of Gaza.”

Later in the day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that the United States had “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a primary responsibility” .

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, another airstrike struck a building in the densely populated refugee camp in Gaza City of Shati, killing two women and eight children.

Mohammed Hadidi told reporters that his wife and his brother’s wife gathered at home with their children to celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Fitr ending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The only survivor was Hadidi’s 5-month-old son Omar.

The explosion left the children’s room covered in rubble and destroyed the living room. In the middle of the wreckage were children’s toys, a Monopoly board game, and, sitting on the kitchen counter, unfinished plates of food from the holiday gathering.

“There was no warning… Did you film people eating and then bomb them?” Said a neighbor, Jamal Al-Naji, referring to Israeli surveillance over the Gaza Strip.

The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In his appeal with Netanyahu, Biden expressed his “strong support” for Israel’s campaign, but raised concerns about civilian casualties and the protection of journalists, the White House said.

The bombings came a day after US diplomat Hady Amr arrived in Israel as part of Washington’s efforts to defuse the conflict. Israel rejected an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas leaders had accepted, an Egyptian intelligence official said on Friday on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

Egyptian mediators, who work closely with Israel on security issues and share a border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, seemed increasingly alarmed. The intelligence official said Egypt hoped the US intervention could end the Israeli assault. The UN Security Council was due to meet on Sunday.

Tensions began in East Jerusalem earlier this month, when Palestinians protested settler attempts to forcefully evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque. , a frequent flashpoint located on a hill in the old city revered by Muslims and Jews.

Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem on Monday evening, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza. Since then, Hamas has fired more than 2,000 rockets, although most have failed or have been intercepted by missile defenses. Israeli warplanes and artillery struck hundreds of targets around blockaded Gaza, home to some 2 million Palestinians.

The unrest also spilled over elsewhere, fueling protests in the occupied West Bank and fueling violence in Israel between its Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and vigilante attacks on people and property.

Palestinians on Saturday marked al-Nakba Day, or “the Catastrophe,” commemorating the estimated 700,000 people who were evicted or fled from their homes in what was now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. Thousands of Israeli Arabs marched at a Nakba rally in the northern Israeli town of Sukhnin, and scattered protests took place in the West Bank.

Palestinian health officials on Saturday reported the deaths of two Palestinians by Israeli fire in the West Bank. One of the shootings took place when the military said it thwarted an alleged car crash.


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