The Israeli military pounded the Gaza Strip again early Monday, a day after dozens of Palestinians were killed in Israeli air raids, despite mounting international pressure to put an end to the carnage. Hamas also persisted, launching rackets at southern Israeli cities in the early hours of the morning.
The Israeli military said 54 fighter jets attacked underground tunnels used by Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, striking 35 terror targets and approximately 9 miles of tunnels. Three Palestinians were killed a day after 42 Palestinians were killed in air raids on Sunday, the bloodiest day yet in Israel’s escalating conflict with Hamas.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 200 people have died in the densely populated enclave of 2 million Palestinians, including 59 children and 35 women. According to Israeli authorities, ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children. Since last Monday, 97 multistory apartment buildings and residential buildings have been destroyed, according to local officials.
Palestinian civilians are trapped in densely populated Gaza due to a strict blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, with no bomb shelters and nowhere to go to protect themselves during raid bombings. The Israeli military and the Islamic Jihad militant group confirmed on Monday that an airstrike had killed a top commander of the Iran-backed militants.
The assassination of Hasam Abu Harbid, commander of the group’s northern division, could exacerbate tensions between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants, a smaller group than Hamas. The Israeli military also claimed to have targeted the operators of a possible Hamas naval weapon.
According to Israeli police, rockets hit the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashdod, where a number of people were treated for minor injuries. According to initial reports, a rocket struck a building in Ashdod, injuring three people with broken glass and five others with stress symptoms, according to the Israeli rescue service Magen David Adom.
More than 3,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli territory so far. According to the Israeli military, the Iron Dome air defense system intercepted approximately 90% of the rockets. The escalating violence prompted UN Security Council diplomats and Muslim foreign ministers to hold emergency meetings with representatives calling for an end to the civilian bloodshed over the weekend.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the violence “appalling” and demanded that it end “immediately.” China has accused the United States of preventing the Security Council from issuing a joint statement on the region’s escalating violence.
“Regrettably, the Security Council hasn’t been able to speak with one voice simply because of one country’s obstruction,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the virtual meeting on Sunday.
“We urge the United States to shoulder its responsibilities, take a just stance, and join the majority of the international community in assisting the Security Council in easing the situation, rebuilding trust, and advancing political settlement.” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council that the US had been working “tirelessly” to end the conflict.
In the United States, Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., led a group of 29 senators in calling for an immediate ceasefire to avoid further casualties. Last week, a group of progressive Democrats chastised the administration for its handling of the crisis and urged it to move support for the Palestinian cause from the margins to the center.
Press freedom advocates have condemned an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza building that housed international media offices on Saturday, disrupting coverage of the conflict. The Israeli military defended the tower’s targeting, claiming Hamas had a military intelligence office there and used journalists as human shields, but it provided no evidence to back up its claims.
Egypt’s state news agency reported on Sunday that the country had opened the Rafah border crossing into Gaza to allow for the evacuation of the injured. It was also reported that Egyptian aid was on its way to the enclave.
The land, air and sea blockade of Gaza, which Hamas seized control of from the forces of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007, has had a devastating impact on Gaza’s civilians and sent poverty and unemployment skyrocketing.