Five Israelis, including three women and one child, were killed by rockets early on Tuesday and Wednesday, and dozens of others were injured. According to the Ministry of Health, the death toll in Gaza rose to 35 Palestinians, including 10 children. More than 200 people were injured.
The ministry said that at the same time, in the West Bank, a 26-year-old Palestinian clashed with Israeli forces and was killed while entering the Farwal refugee camp in southern Hebron.
Another sign of the intensification of the riots is the outbreak of demonstrations in Arab communities across Israel. The demonstrators set fire to dozens of cars while confronting the police.
The battle between Israel and Hamas was the fiercest since the 50-day war in the summer of 201
The sound of Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip and the hissing of rocket launches can be heard throughout the day, and thick smoke from the target building comes out of the sky. Israel resumed its airstrike policy aimed at eliminating wanted criminals and began to demolish the entire building. This strategy aroused widespread criticism from the international community in 2014.
In Israel, the endless rocket bar is surrounded by long white smoke, and the explosion of the anti-rocket interceptor bombards overhead. Anti-aircraft sirens cry all day, causing panicked residents to hurriedly cover.
In a national television speech, Natanyahu said that Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad “have already paid a price for this, and I’m here to tell you that they will pay a heavy price”.
He claimed that Israel had killed dozens of militants and caused severe damage to hundreds of targets.
He said: “This sport will take time.” “With determination, unity and strength, we will restore the safety of Israeli citizens.”
He fought side by side with his political opponent Defense Secretary Benny Gantz, showing solidarity. “There are many goals in line. This is just the beginning,” Gantz said. The military says it is activating about 5,000 reserve personnel and sending reinforcements to the Gaza border.
The current violence coincides with the Muslim fasting month Ramadan, a period of high religious sentiment.
Critics say the tough measures taken by Israel in the Old City of Jerusalem and its surrounding areas have contributed to the unrest at night. Another tipping point was the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in the eastern part of Jerusalem, where dozens of Palestinians were threatened with expulsion by Jewish settlers.
Last weekend, a confrontation broke out in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is the third holiest place in Islam and the holiest place in Judaism. Over the course of four days, Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians in the compound, who threw stones and chairs at the troops. Sometimes, the police fired stun grenades at the carpeted mosque.
On Monday night, Hamas began launching rockets from Gaza. Since then, the upgrade has been rapid.
Hamas’ exiled leader Ismail Haniye said in a televised speech that Israel is responsible. He said: “It was the Israeli occupation that set Jerusalem on fire and the fire spread to Gaza.”
Palestinian health officials did not disclose the death toll in Gaza, but Islamic Jihad confirmed that three senior commanders were killed in a strike in a hideout in an apartment building in Gaza City. The Ministry of Health said that 10 children and one woman were killed.
Netanyahu said Israel has attacked hundreds of targets. The most violent attack was a series of air strikes that destroyed the entire 12-story building. The building houses important Hamas offices, gyms and some startup companies. Before demolishing the building, Israel opened a series of warning shots, allowing people to escape without casualties.
Israeli planes severely damaged another building in Gaza City earlier Wednesday. This 9-storey structure houses residential apartments, medical companies and dental clinics. Before the bombing, a drone launched five warning rockets. Israel says Hamas has an intelligence service, and the organization’s command is responsible for planning attacks on Israeli targets in the occupied West Bank.
After reporters and rescuers gathered, fighter jets attacked the building again. There is no news of casualties. The high-rise building was 200 meters (650 feet) from the Associated Press office in Gaza City, and smoke and debris entered the office.
Soon after the bombing, Hamas announced that it would continue its attack and aimed 100 rockets at the Israeli desert town of Bir Sheva. Hamas said the new barrage is a response to a strike on buildings. Israel’s Kan Public Radio said the most recent rocket attack occurred early Wednesday, killing a man and his seven-year-old daughter in the central city of Lorde.
The Israeli military said hundreds of rockets were fired towards Israel. Another rocket attack in the southern Indian city of Ashkelon killed two women, including caregivers in India.
Then, in the middle of the night, Hamas said that in response to the destruction of high-rise buildings, it fired 130 rockets at Tel Aviv. As the rocket lifted off, mosques in the Gaza Strip shouted: “God is great”, “Islamic victory” and “resistance”.
One rocket killed a woman in the city of Rishon-le-Zion, and another rocket hit a bus in the nearby city of Holon, wounding three people, including a young girl.
The violence began to spread to Israel’s own Arab population.
In Lod, thousands of mourners attended the funeral for an Arab man killed by a suspected Jewish gunman the night before. Israeli media reported that the crowd clashed with the police and burned down a synagogue and about 30 vehicles, including police cars. Paramedics said a 56-year-old man was seriously injured after stoning the car.
The mayor of the city, Yair Revivo, described the situation in the mixed Jewish and Arab city as a “civil war” and the government ordered the deployment of paramilitary border defenses from the West Bank to Rhodes.
In neighbouring Ramli, ultra-nationalist Jewish demonstrators were photographed attacking cars belonging to Arabs. In the northern port city of Ake, protesters burned a Jewish-owned restaurant and hotel. Police arrested dozens of others during Arab protests in other towns.
Diplomats seek to intervene, and Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations are working to reach a ceasefire. All three people are mediators between Israel and Hamas.
The UN Security Council plans to hold a second private emergency meeting within three days on Wednesday to respond to the escalating violence, which shows the growing concern of the international community. Security Council diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were conducted in private. He said that the United Nations’ most powerful agency did not issue a statement because the United States was worried that it might exacerbate tensions.
The escalation took place at a time when the political situation in Israel was tense.
Netanyahu has been the caretaker prime minister since parliamentary elections in March were undecided. After failing to form a coalition government on time last week, his political opponents now have a chance.
The support of an Arab-backed party of Islamic descent is the key to the anti-Netanyahu group. But the current tensions may at least temporarily prevent the leader of the party, Mansour Abbas, from joining the alliance with Jewish parties.
The two sides still have three weeks to reach an agreement. If they fail, Israel may start an unprecedented fifth election in just two years.