Israeli airstrikes hit the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing 10 members of an extended family and destroying a building housing international media as Palestinian militants fired rockets.
On the sixth day since the escalation of the conflict, the death toll rose and violence engulfed the occupied West Bank as a U.S. envoy prepared to hold talks with officials seeking a de-escalation.
Despite intensifying diplomatic efforts, Israeli warplanes hit several places in the densely populated Gaza Strip, which it has blocked for more than a decade, as Palestinian Islamists fired rockets back at Israel, killing one.
The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a rally on Friday, killing at least 13 people and wounding three others, according to the Israeli Air Force.
“It is clear that there is a decision not only to sow destruction and murder, but also to silence those who transmit it,” Walid al-Omari told AFP, Al Jazeera, on Israel and the occupied territories.
Jawad Mehdi, the owner of the Jala Tower, said an Israeli intelligence officer warned him he only had one hour to secure the evacuation of the building.
Israel claimed that the “military intelligence” of Hamas, the Islamic rulers of the Gaza Strip, was also in the building.
Earlier, an Israeli attack on a three-story building in the Shati refugee camp killed 10 members of an extended family – two related mothers and their four children each. The Israeli military said the building was used by “senior officials of the Hamas terrorist organization.”
‘Hitting our children’
Mohammed al-Hadidi said he had lost most of his family in an airstrike in Gaza.
“What did they do to deserve this? We are civilians,” said the devastated father, whose five-month-old surviving baby was injured in the blast.
“They are hitting our kids – the kids – without warning.”
Israeli airstrikes and artillery in Gaza since Monday have killed 139 people, including 39 children and injured 1,000 others, health officials say.
Palestinian militant groups have fired 2,300 rockets at Israel, killing 10 people, including a child and a soldier. Over 560 Israelis have been injured.
On Saturday afternoon, a rocket fired from Gaza killed an Israeli in the central city of Ramat Gen near Tel Aviv, police and doctors said.
Violence also flared up in the West Bank and feared an escalation as Palestinians marked Nakba on Saturday, the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation in 1948, which turned hundreds of thousands into refugees.
Eleven Palestinians were killed Friday in West Bank clashes.
A Palestinian security source said the fighting had been “fiercest” since the second intifada, or uprising, began in 2000.
US Secretary of State for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr will hold talks with Israeli leaders on Sunday ahead of a meeting with Palestinian officials.
Amr is seeking a “lasting calm,” said Deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter.
Washington has been criticized for not doing more to end the escalating violence after blocking a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Friday.
Israel, which is also trying to contain an outbreak of internal Jewish-Arab violence, is facing its bloodiest conflict with Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2014.
Its bombing began Monday after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem following a bloody Israeli police raid on the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and a crackdown on protests against the planned Israeli expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. annexed.
10,000 Palestinians flee
From 19:00 on Friday until 7:00 on Saturday, about 200 rockets were fired in the direction of southern Israel, the Israeli army said. Over 100 were intercepted by air defense.
Israel retaliated by hitting nearly 800 targets, including a Hamas tunnel network dug under civilian areas.
About 10,000 Ghazans have fled their homes near the border with Israel for fear of a ground attack, the United Nations said.
“They are being sheltered in schools, mosques and other places during a global Covid-19 pandemic with limited access to water, food, hygiene and health services,” said Lynn Hastings, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied territories.
Kamal al-Haddad, who fled with his family to a UN-backed school in Gaza, said: “All children are afraid, and we are afraid for children.”
Egypt opened its Rafah-Gaza border crossing on Saturday to allow 10 ambulances to send seriously injured Palestinians for treatment, medical officials said.
‘It’s not over yet’
Within Israel, tensions have turned into mob violence in mixed cities that are home to Jewish Israelis and Arab citizens of Palestinian origin.
More than 750 people were arrested in mixed Jewish-Arab cities this week, police said, including dozens of Arab Israelis arrested overnight.
In the north, where Israel technically remains at war with neighboring Lebanon and Syria, tensions were also rising.
Three rockets were fired from Syria on Friday as the Israeli military said it fired “warning shots” at a group to stop them from crossing into Lebanon with Israel’s enemy Hezbollah, saying one of its members u vra.
The UN said the Security Council was set to meet on Sunday to address the violence.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave no indication that Israel was ready to ease its campaign.
“I said we would give a heavy blow to Hamas and other terrorist groups and we are doing it,” Netanyahu said. “It’s not over yet.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a shared source.)