Gaza reels under Israeli airstrikes as deadly violence enters second week



Israeli airstrikes have hammered the Gaza Strip after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian, despite international calls for de-escalation.

Israeli jets kept up a barrage of airstrikes against the Palestinian enclave of Gaza on Monday evening, as a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people shows no signs of relenting.

Air strikes sent dust clouds billowing into the skyline, as the Hamas militant group that controls the densely populated coastal strip threatened more rocket strikes on Tel Aviv if bombing of residential areas does not stop.

US President Joe Biden announced he would talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday evening, shortly after diplomats said Washington had blocked a third draft of a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to the violence.

The UN Security Council is to hold a new emergency closed-door meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday, the Norwegian diplomatic mission announced on Twitter.

“The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. Innocent civilians continue being killed and injured. We repeat: stop the fire. End hostilities now,” the delegation said.

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Gaza resident Roba Abu al-Awf, 20, said she was bracing for a rough night.

“We have nothing to do but sit at home,” she said. “Death could come at any moment – the bombing is crazy and indiscriminate.”

Palestinian militants have for their part fired 3,200 rockets toward Israel since the conflict escalated on 10 May in the heaviest exchange of fire in years, sparked by unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

The Qatari Red Crescent said an air strike damaged its offices in Gaza on Monday, while the health ministry said one of its buildings and a clinic were also hit.

Israel’s army said on Monday it had hit the homes of nine “high-ranking” Hamas commanders overnight, a day after bombing the house of Yahya Sinwar, head of the group’s political wing. It gave no details of any casualties.

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Top diplomats to Australia from Israel and Palestine have described their sides of the conflict

Top Israeli and Palestinian diplomats to Australia have described their sides of the conflict

Thousands homeless

Fighter jets also hit what the Israeli army calls the “Metro,” its term for Hamas’ underground tunnels, which Israel has previously acknowledged run in part through civilian areas.

The strikes come a day after 42 Palestinians in Gaza – including at least eight children and two doctors, according to the health ministry – were killed in the worst daily death toll in the enclave since the bombardments began.

Local authorities say a total of 200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 59 children, and more than 1,300 wounded since Israel launched its air campaign against Hamas in response to rocket fire.

Palestinians inspect damaged building after airstrikes by Israeli army hit buildings in Gaza City, Gaza.

Israeli air strikes hammered the Gaza Strip Monday after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian.
Anadolu

Israel says 10 people, including one child, have been killed and more than 300 wounded by the rocket fire that has been the most intense to ever rain down on the Jewish state.

Israeli bombardment of Gaza has displaced 38,000 people and made 2,500 homeless, the United Nations says.

It has also battered crucial infrastructure, with the electricity authority on Monday warning it only had enough fuel left to provide power for another two to three days.

On Saturday, Israel gave journalists from Al Jazeera and AP news agency an hour to evacuate their offices before launching airstrikes, turning their tower block into a pile of smoking rubble.

Mr Netanyahu on Sunday claimed the building also hosted a Palestinian “terrorist” intelligence office.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Monday he had requested “details” and a “justification” for the strike.

The violence between Hamas and Israel is the worst since 2014, when Israel launched a military operation on the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of ending rocket fire and destroying tunnels used for smuggling.

That war left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, mostly civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

UN Security Council talks that opened Sunday have resulted in little progress, with Washington on Monday blocking for the third time a draft resolution calling for a halt to the violence.

Mr Biden’s administration says it is working behind the scenes, and that a Security Council statement could backfire.

When asked whether he would join international calls for a ceasefire, Mr Biden told reporters at the White House Monday evening Israeli time “I will be speaking with the (Israeli) prime minister… and I’ll be able to talk to you after that.”

Mr Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan said he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart and the Egyptian government – a key intermediary – on Monday, saying that Washington was engaged in “quiet, intensive diplomacy.”

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Palestinians evacuate children, women, and the elderly from under the rubble of their destroyed home after an Israeli air raid on Gaza City, on 16 May.

UN warns of ‘uncontainable crisis’ as clashes between Israelis and Palestinians claim more than 200 lives

‘Bloody hands’

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced “solidarity” with Israel in her own call with Netanyahu on Monday, reaffirming the Jewish state’s “right to defend itself” against rocket attacks – a line likewise consistently taken by Washington.

But Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the US president of having “bloody hands” due to his support for Israel.

US envoy for Israeli and Palestinian affairs Hady Amr was in Ramallah on Monday and met with Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, who urged Washington to act against “Israel’s aggression,” the official Wafa news agency reported.

Palestinian Al Deyri family's children after their home was demolished by Israeli army's airstrikes in Gaza City, Gaza.

Israeli air strikes have hammered the Gaza Strip after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian.
Anadolu/Getty

Israel is also trying to contain inter-communal violence between Jews and Arab-Israelis, as well as unrest in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian authorities say Israeli forces have killed 19 Palestinians since 10 May.

A rocket fired from Gaza flies towards Israel, in Gaza City, 17 May 2021.

Israeli air strikes have hammered the Gaza Strip after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian.
EPA

A 56-year-old Israeli man who was beaten by Arab suspects in the city of Lod last week died in hospital on Monday, police said.

Clashes broke out at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound – one of Islam’s holiest sites – on 7 May after Israeli forces moved in on worshippers.

This followed a crackdown against protests over planned expulsions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

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Victorian Budget 2021/22 includes vital funds to support people and pets impacted by family violence


Pets will no longer be silent victims of family violence, with the Victorian Government’s announcement today that $1.3 million in funding is included in the Victorian Budget 2021/22 to support victim survivors and their pets.

RSPCA Victoria welcomes the announcement of $1.3 million allocated in the Budget to help people fleeing family violence keep their pets safe by linking refuge and accommodation services with vets, animal shelters and boarding facilities, and to provide financial assistance to help victims access basic pet care items such as kennels and cat baskets.

RSPCA Victoria CEO, Dr Liz Walker, says the increased funding recognises the strong link between family violence and animal cruelty, along with the need to support people fleeing violence to keep and care for their pets.

“Pets bring great companionship and comfort – they truly are part of the family and essential that we treat them as such when managing family violence situations,” says Dr Walker.

“Numerous studies show that in households experiencing domestic and family violence, where there is a pet present, there is also a high probability of animal abuse. Not only are animals in these households at risk of experiencing abuse, but we also know that many victims of family violence will delay or avoid leaving unsafe situations for fear of leaving their pets behind.

“Fearing for the welfare of pets or being separated from them when fleeing family violence situations can be an incredibly traumatic experience. For victims, knowing that their animals are safe is one less stressor for them to deal with when seeking refuge for themselves or their children.

“This funding will help bridge the gap between animal and human support services, giving victims of family violence an avenue to both protect themselves and their pets from abuse and by leaving their situation knowing their pet will be well cared for.”

In the 2019-20 financial year, RSPCA Victoria provided emergency boarding for 148 animals, including those belonging to people affected by family violence.

As a result of the Victorian Government’s announcement of funding to support people and pets in family violence situations, RSPCA Victoria looks forward to working more closely with refuge, support and accommodation organisations to provide support to pets and people impacted by family violence.

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Amid violence in Gaza, Palestinians’ supporters gather in cities across Canada


TORONTO —
Amid the growing violence in east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, supporters of the Palestinian solidarity movement held peaceful protests in cities across Canada on Friday and Saturday, ranging from small car rallies to massive marches of thousands of people.

In the nation’s capital, thousands of demonstrators in support of Palestinians gathered at the Human Rights Monument near Ottawa City Hall and marched through the downtown streets.

“I’m worried every single day. Every time I see in the news there has been a bombing in Gaza or a strike in Gaza, my first instinct is to message my family and see how they are,” rally attendee Nora Abushaban told CTV News Ottawa.

In Toronto, thousands also gathered at Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall, many holding Palestinian flags and signs saying, “Free Palestine”.

The Toronto protest was also met with a smaller group of pro-Israeli counter-protesters, with a barricade set up between the two groups by police.

On the West Coast, supporters of the Palestinians also gathered in Vancouver in a march organized by the Canada Palestine Association that ended at the U.S. consulate.

Around 200 people gathered in front of City Hall in Saint John, N.B., waving Palestinian and Canadian flags while holding signs calling for an end to the violence and the Israeli airstrikes.

“We want to show our support and solidarity for the basic human rights of these people who are living in Sheikh Jarrah, in Gaza City, in Palestine in general,” rally organizer Helmi Alfarra told CTV News Atlantic.

The latest outbreak of violence in the region began in east Jerusalem last month, when Palestinian protests broke out in response to Israeli police tactics during Ramadan. Protests also arose after Jewish settlers have threatened the eviction of dozens of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

In response, Hamas militants in Gaza have launched rocket attacks at Israel, prompting retaliation from the Israeli military. At least 188 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 people wounded, as of Sunday morning. Eight Israelis have also been killed.

The rallies on Saturday coincided with what many Palestinians call “Nakba Day,” which is commemorated on May 15 to mark the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians after the creation of Israel in 1948.

Rally attendees in Saskatoon hold signs in front of city hall. (Tyler Barrow/CTV News Saskatoon)

Hundreds also showed up in front of Saskatoon City Hall, chanting “free, free Palestine” and “the occupation has to go.”

“I’m here to support the Palestinians back home. Make our voices heard what’s going on and to give it attention,” rally attendee Omar Ash, who himself was born in the Palestinian territories, told CTV News Saskatoon.

CAR RALLIES HELD TO RESPECT COVID-19 RULES

With COVID-19 restrictions in mind, supporters of Palestinians in some communities held car rallies. In London, Ont., protesters assembled in their vehicles at a local mall parking lot before rolling onto the streets.

Hundred of cars participated in the rally, many with Palestinian flags attached to them.

london rally

Hundreds of vehicles gathered at malls in London, Ont. to protest attacks against Israel’s attacks on Palestinians on Friday, May 14, 2021. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)

A massive car rally was also held in Edmonton, which saw hundreds of protesters honking in their vehicles and waving Palestinian flags.

“There’s a lot of support for this right now, it’s getting harder and harder to hide the atrocities of Israel, people are here for basic human rights for Palestinians,” said rally organizer Mousa Qasqas in an interview with CTV News Edmonton.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators held both a car rally and an in-person protest in Montreal. Hundreds of vehicles with Palestinian flags rolled through the streets of Montreal while thousands gathered in front of the Israeli consulate general in Westmount, Que.

Supporters of Palestinians in Waterloo Region, Ont. also resorted to holding a car rally after Waterloo Regional Police told organizers that an in-person rally would be in violation of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We want people that are not Palestinian to know and understand what’s happening in Palestine,” rally organizer Yazan Shaheen told CTV News Kitchener. “This is the same ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinian people that we’ve seen in 1948 and here we go again, 73 years later, three generations later, we are seeing it happen again.”

Meanwhile, in Halifax, officers from the Halifax Regional Police issued fines and made arrests to some involved in a car rally at Saint Mary’s University. Officers said the rally violated provincewide COVID-19 restrictions. Police say around 200 vehicles were involved.

“We just want to show the Palestinian people, the people in Gaza and the West Bank that we support then,” rally participant Alaa Darwish told CTV News Atlantic.

With files from the Associated Press, CTV News Atlantic, CTV News Montreal, CP24, CTV News Ottawa, CTV News Saskatoon, CTV News Kitchener, CTV News Edmonton and CTV News London​.



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Obama education secretary decries violence Palestinian children facing from Gaza strikes


Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan decried the violence Palestinian children in Gaza are facing on Twitter Saturday. 

Duncan, who served as head of the Department of Education from 2009 to 2016 under President Obama, shared a video on Twitter of a 10-year-old Palestinian girl in Gaza crying over the rocket attacks that had left a building in rubble behind her. “Why do we deserve this, what did we do for this?” the girl asked. She said her parents had told her, “They just hate us, they just don’t like us because we are Muslims.” 

“Children across the globe, and right here in our country — including on the south and west sides of Chicago — live every day with a level of fear and trauma due to violence that is unimaginable,” Duncan wrote on Twitter. “They feel that no one cares. It is never, ever fair, and it is never, ever their fault.” 

PSAKI DENIES ISRAELI DEFENSE OVERREACTED 

An Israeli air raid in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians, mostly children, early Saturday in the deadliest single strike since the battle with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers erupted earlier this week. Both sides pressed for an advantage as cease-fire efforts gathered strength.

Israel and Gaza are entering their sixth day of deadly attacks in the most serious conflict between Israeli and Gaza militants since 2014. Police and protesters began with clashes in the streets of East Jerusalem fighting over impending evictions and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque before the rocket attacks commenced. Violence has now spread to other regions where Jews and Arabs live side by side. 

In Gaza, at least 126 people have been killed, including 31 children and 20 women; in Israel, seven people have been killed, including a 6-year-old boy and a soldier.

ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE ON GAZA HOME KILLS 10 

An Israeli military official said Friday that at least 2,000 rockets had been fired from Gaza toward Israel since the start of the violence, according to Reuters. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. 

Biden said Thursday he had not seen a “significant overreaction” from Israel in response to Hamas’ rocket attacks, and that they had been “indiscriminately fired into population centers.”  Both he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

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U.S. diplomat Hady Amr arrived on Friday as part of Washington’s efforts to de-escalate the conflict, and the U.N. Security Council was set to meet Sunday. But Israel turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian official said Friday on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Thousands rally across Australia in solidarity with Palestinians amid renewed Gaza violence


Thousands of people have gathered in cities across Australia to commemorate the Nakba and rally in solidarity with Palestinians in the wake of renewed violence in Gaza.

The Nakba, also known as the Palestinian Catastrophe, marked when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes following the creation of Israel in 1948.

Rallies and vigils were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra on Saturday, where pro-Palestinian protesters reflected on and condemned the recent violence in Gaza and the West Bank.

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Sydney’s Town Hall on Saturday

SBS News

At least 132 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday, including 32 children, according to Palestinian medical officials. Eleven people are reported to have been killed in the West Bank.

Eight people, including two children, have died in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

“The situation is very bad. We have seen the devastating bombings that have been happening, which made us come here,” one protester told SBS News at the Sydney event at Town Hall.

Georgette, a 78-year-old Palestinian who did not give her last name, said Israel had dispossessed her people from their country.

“They took our land and this is why we are upset,” she said.

Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi told the Sydney crowd Palestinians have suffered for too long.

“It has been generations of secular colonial violence against the Palestinian people and it has to end,” she said.

A man addressing the Sydney rally

A man addressing the Sydney rally

SBS News

Photos and video uploaded to social media of the Melbourne event show large crowds chanting pro-Palestinian slogans, holding placards and marching in the CBD.

It follows a series of pro-Palestinian protests this week in Bangladesh, Turkey, Belgium, Lebanon, Greece and more.

Nakba demonstrations are also expected to take place in other countries across the world this weekend.

The German government on Friday expressed solidarity with Israel, with political leaders attending a synagogue service.

Jeremy Issacharoff, ambassador of the State of Israel to Germany, speaks at a prayer service in solidarity with Israel at the Berlin-Wilmersdorf synagogue

Jeremy Issacharoff, ambassador of the State of Israel to Germany, speaks at a prayer service in solidarity with Israel at the Berlin-Wilmersdorf synagogue

DPA

Germany has seen scattered demonstrations this week over the escalating conflict in Gaza, with pro-Palestinian protesters shouting anti-Israel slogans and burning Israeli flags.

Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, condemned what he called the “anti-Semitic” protests.

“Anyone who uses such protests to scream their hatred of Jews is abusing the right to demonstrate. Our democracy will not tolerate anti-Semitic demonstrations,” he told reporters.

With AFP.

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2yo girl hurt in Chicago drive-by shooting, hours after city’s gun violence left 5 teens & young boy with gunshot wounds — RT USA News



A two-year-old toddler has been wounded in a drive-by shooting in Chicago, Illinois. The attack happened after several children sustained gunshot wounds in separate incidents.

The shooting occurred around 7pm local time on Friday near the steps of the Cook County courthouse in Chicago’s Southwest Side. The toddler was sitting in the back seat of a car when someone drove up and fired shots from another vehicle, police said. The little girl was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the leg.

No one has been detained so far, with detectives looking for suspects.  

The incident came after police reported that an eight-year-old-boy and five young teens were shot in Chicago on Thursday night and early Friday, according to local media. The youngest boy, who police said was not the intended target, was shot in the knee. At least 30 shell casings were reportedly left lying on the street where he was wounded.

The boys aged 15 and 16 were wounded in a separate shooting. The older boy was hit in the abdomen, and the younger one was shot in the arm. Both teenagers managed to walk to a hospital and were admitted to a nearby trauma center.

Another 16-year-old boy was shot in the arm while getting into his car in a different part of the city. The third 16-year-old boy was struck in the thigh while standing on the street, with the police saying that his wound appeared to be self-inflicted.



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A 14-year-old girl was hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the abdomen early on Friday. She was also struck while standing on a street.

In April, a seven-year-old girl named Jaslyn Adams was injured as she was sitting in a car with her father in a McDonald’s drive-thru, when shots were fired from another vehicle. Adams’ father recovered from his gunshot wounds, but the girl died in the hospital. Three men were subsequently charged with her murder. 

According to police, there were 769 homicides in Chicago in 2020, which is 274 more than the previous year and the highest number since 2016.

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Death toll rises as violence rocks Gaza, Israel and West Bank



Israeli planes renewed air strikes in Gaza early on Saturday and Hamas militants responded by firing rockets into Israel as their battle entered a fifth night and US and Arab diplomats sought an end to the violence.

Palestinian medics said at least 12 people were killed overnight in air strikes throughout Gaza. Health officials said a a family of 10 were among the dead after their house was hit in a refugee camp. 

Eight children and two women, all belonging to the Abu Hatab family, were killed in the three-storey building in Shati refugee camp that collapsed following an Israeli strike, medical sources said.

The Israeli military said it carried out strikes on a Hamas military intelligence facility and a number of rocket launching sites in northern Gaza.

The Palestinian religious affairs ministry said Israeli planes destroyed a mosque. A military spokesman said the army was checking the report.

Sirens sounded in two major southern Israeli cities warning of incoming fire from Gaza. Hamas claimed responsibility for launching rockets.

With no sign of an end to the fighting, casualties spread further afield, with Palestinians reporting 11 killed in the occupied West Bank amid clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces.

At least 132 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday, including 32 children and 21 women, and 950 others wounded, Palestinian medical officials said.



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Mel B appears beaten and covered in fake bruises for shocking video to highlight domestic violence after claiming she tried to leave her ‘abusive’ relationship for 10 years



Mel B has appeared beaten and covered in fake bruises for a shocking music video to highlight the effects of domestic violence.

The former Spice Girl, 45, can be seen attempting to flee her violent partner in the Women’s Aid video, which was made in collaboration with classical composer Fabio D’Andrea.

It comes as Mel also claimed she attempted to leave her marriage to ex-husband Stephen Belafonte, who has denied any accusations of abuse, for a decade but found it to be an ‘impossible’ situation.

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In the video, Mel can be seen wearing makeup to mimic a bloodied face and bruises as she is dragged across the room and beaten by her partner.

While the video shows that the couple’s relationship is the picture of happiness to those around them, behind closed doors she is left terrified by her partner’s violent behaviour.

The clip ends with a bloodied Mel dramatically fleeing her house after her partner leaves, desperate to escape his abusive behaviour.

Speaking to The Sun following the video’s release, Mel, who is now a patron for Women’s Aid, explained: ‘Whether it be the spitting or the strangulation, these are things that actually happen. They are all these women’s stories.

‘I came out of making that video with bruises because I wanted it to be an honest representation of what we have all gone through.

‘There is a bedroom scene where I am attacked, it was really important to make that real.’

Mel also hinted that five years since leaving her marriage, she has found love again with a new partner, admitting that following her ordeal she couldn’t even be hugged or touched for a year. 

The singer also welcomed the introduction of The Domestic Abuse Bill into law, with the new Act setting out the definition as being beyond just physical violence, and including coercive control and emotional and sexual abuse.

However Mel also detailed that despite divorcing Stephen, she is still embroiled in a custody arrangement meaning she cannot see her daughter Madison for weeks on end.

Since leaving her ex, Mel has settled into a new life in Leeds with her mum Andrea and has vowed to teach her daughters how to maintain a good relationship, including a ban on yelling in her house. 

Speaking further about the short film, Mel said: ‘I’m so incredibly proud to be part of this project which means so much to me because this is a collaboration of three things that are so important in my life. Music, dance and a way to highlight the ever increasing issue of violence towards women.

‘It seems strange to say I am proud of showing something so brutal and disturbing but it is my mission to raise awareness of something so many women go through every day, every week, every month of their lives.

‘I have had my own experiences of abusive relationships but as patron of Women’s Aid I have spoken to so many other women, listened to what they have gone through and I know how very real the danger is to so many women out there and I’m not going to stop breaking the silence and the shame around this subject because it’s too much and we have to stand up and do something. 

‘This performance represents the stories and the experiences of those women I have met, spoken to or heard about.

‘My heart breaks for every single woman and child who suffers from some form of domestic abuse. I want this to count for all victims of abuse. I want to help raise awareness, raise money and do anything I can to put a stop to this epidemic.’

The video is part of a series by D’Andrea that has also included actor Russell Tovey highlighting issues around fame and mental health.

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why is there violence in Gaza and Jerusalem?



What sparked the latest conflict between Israel and Gaza?  

For weeks, Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed daily in Jerusalem, with a series of incidents during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan contributing to the mounting hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians.   

Last month extreme right right Israelis marched through East Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs” amid tensions over Ramadan restrictions and videos online showing Palestinian attacks on Jews.

The looming eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in East Jerusalem to make room for Israeli settlers has further inflamed anger. Israel describes it as a property dispute but critics describe it as state-sponsored ethnic cleansing.

On Wednesday the minister for the Middle East James Cleverly said “We urge Israel to cease such actions, which in most cases are contrary to international humanitarian law.”     

Clashes around the al-Aqsa mosque compound have seen Israeli police firing rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades inside what is the third holiest site in Islam. The compound is also home to the Dome of the Rock and the site of the biblical Jewish temple, of which only the Western Wall remains.  

Control over Jerusalem in general and the holy hilltop compound in particular are an especially emotive issue for many Jews and Palestinians.   

What has happened so far?  

Since Monday Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip have fired over 1,000 rockets towards Israel, targeting civilian centres including Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva.   

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system has intercepted most of the rockets but at least 20 have struck home, killing several people, wounding more and damaging buildings, cars and other infrastructure.   

Israel has responded with hundreds of air strikes on Gaza, a densely populated and built up coastal strip in which the militants have embedded themselves within civilian populations.  

Israel on Thursday night appeared to declare a start to an anticipated offensive on the occupied Gaza Strip as Hamas continued to bombard the Jewish state with rocket fire.

“IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said in a brief message, signalling the most serious escalation since the 2014 war.

Footage appeared to show dozens of rockets raining down on the Palestinian enclave, however, the Israeli army later clarified that its troops had not entered the Gaza Strip as it had earlier stated, blaming an “internal communication” problem for the confusion.

So far 65 people have been reported killed in Gaza and seven in Israel, including one soldier.  

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Israeli forces mass at Gaza border as violence with Palestinian armed groups intensifies



It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for restraint between Israel and Palestinian militants after days of air strikes and rocket attacks.

Israeli security forces massed at Gaza’s border on Thursday and Palestinian militants pounded Israel with rockets in intense hostilities that have caused international concern. 

Days of violence between Jewish Israelis and the country’s Arab minority worsened overnight, with synagogues attacked and fighting breaking out on the streets of some communities.

With concern growing the violence that flared on Monday could spiral out of control, the United States is sending an envoy, Hady Amr, to the region. But efforts to end the worst hostilities in years appear so far to have made no progress.

In renewed air strikes on Gaza, Israel struck a six-storey residential building in Gaza City that it said belonged to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Palestinian enclave.

A view during an Israeli strike on Al-Shorouq tower in Gaza City, 12 May 2021 (issued 13 May 2021).

At least 83 people have been killed in Gaza since violence escalated on Monday, medics said, further straining hospitals already under heavy pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are facing Israel and COVID-19. We are in between two enemies,” said Asad Karam, 20, a construction worker, standing beside a road damaged during the air strikes. An electricity pole had collapsed by the road, with its wires severed.

In the latest Palestinian rocket attacks, one rocket crashed into a building near Tel Aviv, injuring five Israelis, police said. Sirens blared in cities across southern Israel, sending thousands running for shelters.

Seven people have been killed in Israel, its military said.

“All of Israel is under attack. It’s a very scary situation to be in,” said Margo Aronovic, a 26-year-old student, in Tel Aviv.

Israel has prepared combat troops along the Gaza border and was in “various stages of preparing ground operations”, a military spokesman said. 

Health authorities in Gaza said they were investigating the deaths of several people overnight who they said may have inhaled poisonous gas. Samples were being examined and they had yet to draw any final conclusions, they said.

Meanwhile, calls are growing internationally for a de-escalation of violence in the region.

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that Israel has a right to defend itself, but after speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he hopes clashes with Palestinians will end quickly.

“I had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not too long ago,” Mr Biden told reporters.

“My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”

A British minister has urged Israel and Hamas to “take a step back” from the escalation.

Scott Morrison urges ‘restraint’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was important the conflict did not play out in Australia. 

“Of course we are all very concerned about what is happening there,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.

“We have been urging restraint from all parties involved there to not take any unilateral action on those very stressful and tense situations we are finding there.

“But those things should not be played out here in Australia.”

Mr Morrison restated the government’s policy of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and described Australia as an agent for peace.

He urged Australians with ties to the conflict to act with tolerance and respect.

“By all means, people can have concerns and views, and there is a tolerance for that, but at the same time we do not want to import the troubles of other parts of the world into this country.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “continue acting to strike at the military capabilities of Hamas” and other Gaza groups. Hamas is regarded as a terrorist group by the United States and Israel.

 The wreck of a large apartment complex by ongoing Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, in Beit Lahia, Gaza on 13 May, 2021.

The wreck of a large apartment complex by ongoing Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, in Beit Lahia, Gaza on 13 May, 2021.
ABACA

On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed a senior Hamas commander and bombed several buildings, including high-rises and a bank, which Israel said was linked to the faction’s activities.

Hamas signalled defiance, with its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, saying: “The confrontation with the enemy is open-ended.”

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Turkey, whose hosting of Hamas leaders in Istanbul in recent years has contributed to a falling out with Israel, called on Muslim countries to show a united and clear stance over the violence.

In the fighting inside Israel, where some in the 21 per cent Arab minority have mounted violent pro-Palestinian protests, attacks by Jews on Arabs passing by in ethnically mixed areas have worsened.

One person was in a critical condition after being shot by Arabs in the Arab-Jewish town of Lod, where authorities imposed a curfew, police said. 

Over 150 arrests were made overnight in Lod and Arab towns in northern Israel, police said. 

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called for an end to “this madness”.

“We are endangered by rockets that are being launched at our citizens and streets, and we are busying ourselves with a senseless civil war among ourselves,” said the president, whose role is largely ceremonial.

A number of foreign carriers have cancelled flights to Israel because of the unrest.

The fatalities in Israel include a soldier killed while patrolling the Gaza border and six civilians, including two children and an Indian worker, medical authorities said.

Gaza’s health ministry said 17 of the people killed in the enclave were children and seven were women. The Israeli military said some 400 of 1,600 rockets fired by Gaza factions had fallen short, potentially causing some Palestinian civilian casualties.

The conflict has led to the freezing of talks by Mr Netanyahu’s opponents on forming a governing coalition to unseat him after Israel’s inconclusive 23 March election.

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