Gaza massacre: Israel shows no signs of letting up as world calls for end to hostilities

PalestineJerusalem

Gaza – Agency:

Israel has turned a deaf ear to pleas and demands from countries around the world to end hostilities in Gaza, as over 212 Palestinians have been massacred since tensions rose in the East Jerusalem two weeks ago.

The Israeli military claimed that Hamas and other Palestinian groups had fired about 3,350 rockets from Gaza – 212 of them – and that Israeli air and artillery strikes had killed at least 130 militants.

Gaza health officials put the Palestinian death toll at 212, including 61 children and 36 women, since hostilities began last week. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children.

Amid seemingly fruitless diplomatic efforts to stop the violence, top US military officer, Army General Mark Milley, warned that the violence could spread.

“My assessment is that you risk broader destabilization and you risk a whole series of negative consequences if the fighting continues,” Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters before landing in Brussels for talks with NATO allies. “It’s in no one’s interest to continue fighting.”

Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave continued overnight. Soon after dawn, missiles struck two buildings in Gaza City, sending plumes of thick smoke into the air.

Palestinians in the Strip fired rockets early on Tuesday that set off sirens in southern Israeli cities, sending thousands running for bomb shelters.

There were no immediate reports of injuries on either side.

The overnight rocket fire from Gaza appeared to be less than in previous nights. There was a six-hour lull in rocket fire overnight before they again began being launched at dawn, according to rocket siren information from the Israeli military.

A Reuters correspondent also reported a lull in overnight rocket fire from Gaza, an enclave home to two million Palestinians.

Diplomatic efforts

US President Joe Biden expressed his support for a ceasefire during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement.

But Netanyahu told Israelis earlier that strikes against militant sites and leaders in Gaza would carry on.

“The directive is to continue to strike at terror targets,” he said in a televised speech, after meeting with military and intelligence chiefs. “We will continue to act as necessary to restore peace and security to all residents of Israel.”

Hamas promised more rockets in return: “The criminal Zionist enemy intensified its bombing of homes and residential apartments in the recent hours, and therefore, we warn the enemy that if it did not stop that immediately, we would resume rocketing Tel Aviv,” said spokesman Abu Ubaida.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged all sides to protect civilians.

Although stressing that Israel had the right to defend itself, Blinken said he had not seen any evidence from Israel about its suggestion that Hamas was operating out of a building housing media outlets – including the US-based Associated Press – which was destroyed in an Israeli missile strike at the weekend.

Hamas denied having offices in the building. “These are false allegations and an attempt to justify the crime of targeting a civilian tower,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Egypt and UN mediators also stepped up diplomatic efforts, while the UN General Assembly will meet to discuss the violence on Thursday.

The Biden administration approved the potential sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, and congressional sources said that US lawmakers were not expected to object to the deal.