Gaza: The death toll from Israeli air strikes on Gaza has climbed to 56, including 14 children, as UN warned of “full-scale war”.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said on Wednesday another 320 Palestinians in the territory were wounded in the strikes that started late on Monday.
Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz vowed more attacks on embattled Gaza before considering a ceasefire.
“The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce,” Gantz said.
At least six people have died in Israel since the start of Israeli military action on Gaza. One them a soldier hit by a missile fired from Gaza.
Israeli warplanes also shelled a building near the headquarters of the Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza. No one was killed or injured in the attack. Meanwhile, the coast of northern Gaza was shelled by Israeli boats.
This is the heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in Gaza and has prompted international concern that the situation could spiral out of control.
Gazans’ homes shook and the sky lit up from Israeli attacks, outgoing rockets and Israeli air defence missiles intercepting them. At least 30 explosions were heard within a matter of minutes just after dawn on Wednesday.
UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation.
“The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. The UN is working with all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,” he wrote.
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 international community.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza follow weeks of violence against Palestinians amid spiking tensions in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The Israeli police deployed heavy-handed tactics against Palestinian worshippers in and around Al Aqsa Mosque in the last week, on the compound revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
Another flashpoint in recent days has been a court case that could end with Palestinian families evicted from occupied East Jerusalem homes in Sheikh Jarrah claimed by Jewish settlers. If the court rules for the settlers, Palestinians living in the neighbourhood would be displaced for a second time, the first when they were moved into Sheikh Jarrah as refugees by Jordan in the 1950s.
Palestinians protesting in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah have been targeted by Israeli forces.
Six Israelis killed in rocket attack
Six people in Israel, including the soldier, were killed by rocket fire since Tuesday, while 45 others have been injured.
Two of those who died on Wednesday were Palestinians, a father and daughter, hit by rocket fire in the city of Lod.
Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said a 50-year-old woman was killed when a rocket hit a building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion, and that two women had been killed in rocket strikes on Ashkelon on Tuesday.
Occupied West Bank violence
Violence flared once again on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank, where one 16-year-old Palestinian boy in Aqqaba and one 26-year-old in a refugee camp near Hebron were killed by Israeli gunfire.
Arab-Jewish towns in Israel also faced violent disturbances over Israeli air strikes in Gaza and clashes in Jerusalem.
Police arrested dozens of people overnight in Lod and in majority-Arab towns in central and northern Israel, including Umm a Fahm along the West Bank border and Jisr a Zarqa on the Mediterranean coast.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in Lod, near Tel Aviv, after reports emerged on Tuesday of Jews stoning a car that was being driven by an Arab resident and of Arabs allegedly setting fire to a synagogue.
All Out Support to Resistance: IRGC
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) meanwhile denounced the Israeli regime for crossing the red lines in a new wave of violence against Palestine, reaffirming its support for the Palestinian resistance.
In a statement on Wednesday, the IRGC strongly condemned the Zionist regime’s atrocities and aggression against people of Palestine which it said have crossed international red lines.
It also lauded the brave Palestinian resistance and fighters for inflicting one of the “harshest and most formidable crises” on the Zionist occupiers by firing missiles in retaliatory attacks.
The IRGC reaffirmed commitment to the historical responsibility to support the Islamic resistance and the Palestinian Intifada on the basis of the Islamic Revolution’s goals.
The statement emphasized that the IRGC will fulfill its historical and undeniable duty more powerfully and vigilantly by assuring the heroic Palestinian nation that it will keep supporting them in the struggle against the Zionist regime.
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