Israeli Escalates Attack on Gaza

People inspect the rubble of a destroyed residential building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City

People inspect the rubble of a destroyed residential building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City

An Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement that before midnight, its forces struck Gaza with airstrikes and artillery, as rockets from the Palestinian enclave continued to be fired towards Israel.

Some went to UN-run schools in Gaza City, carrying small children, household essentials and food.

Palestinian militants have fired some 1,800 rockets and the military has launched more than 600 airstrikes, toppling at least three apartment blocks.

Palestinians marked the first day of the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday under relentless aerial bombardment. "The last word hasn't been said yet and this operation will continue as long as needed".

Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel as Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes and shells.

Israel has added ground troops to its offensive against Palestinian militants, escalating fears that the five-day old conflict could tip over into all-out war.

Other commentators have said that Netanyahu appeared to be distracted by his trial on corruption charges he denies, allowing tensions to surge in Jerusalem and spill over into Gaza.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Biden pointed to his conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the findings of the US intelligence community to justify his position that Israel's conduct in Gaza has thus far been a reasonably proportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks-which began after Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, wounding hundreds of Palestinians.

At least 109 Palestinians, including 28 children and 15 women have been killed, and more than 621 were wounded, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

Israel's intensifying air and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip came as USA members of Congress took to the floor of the House of Representatives to voice solidarity with the Palestinian people as they face both the immediate threat of airstrikes and the constant dehumanization inflicted by an apartheid regime.

Asked about the scrapping of Friday's session, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was not blocking a meeting but wanted to hold it later. Of the 1,800 rockets Gaza militants have fired, more than 400 fell short or misfired, according to the military.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of their destroyed homes after being hit by Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, May 13, 2021.

Trouble loomed on another front after three rockets launched from Lebanon crashed into the Mediterranean off Israel's northern coast late Wednesday, raising the specter of a second battleground with Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militants. But later, citing an internal miscommunication, it clarified that the troops were firing artillery from inside Israel.

The source of the rockets fired at Israel is unclear, and the investigation continues.

Due to the rising violence, flights have been canceled or diverted away from the country's main airport. Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations were leading the truce efforts.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters the US had single handedly obstructed the Security Council from speaking out on the crisis, "standing on the opposite side of the worldwide community". As the violence intensified, Israel said it was carrying out an attack "in the Gaza Strip" although it later denied it was an "invasion".

But diplomats said that close Israeli ally Washington had blocked the urgent meeting.

The military escalation was triggered by weekend unrest between Palestinian and Israeli police at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a sacred place to both Muslims and Jews.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 - a move that has never been recognised by the worldwide community.

The fighting broke out late on Monday when Hamas fired a long-range rocket at Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests there against the policing of a flashpoint holy site and efforts by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families from their homes.

Over 70 Palestinians in total are set to be evicted from Sheikh Jarrah in the coming weeks to be replaced by right-wing Jewish Israelis, reported The Times of Israel.

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