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40 killed in Gaza, 5 in Israel in worst ever escalation since 2014

The death toll in Gaza rose to 40 Palestinians, including 10 children, according to the Health Ministry

Wednesday May 12, 2021 12:44 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

Israel Palestine

Gaza/Jerusalem: Hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated on Wednesday, with at least 40 killed in Gaza and 5 in Israel, including one from India's Kerala, in the most intensive aerial exchanges for years.

Israel carried out hundreds of air strikes in Gaza into Wednesday morning, as Hamas and other Palestinian militants fired multiple rocket barrages at Tel Aviv and Beersheba.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 40 Palestinians, including 10 children, according to the Health Ministry. Over 200 people were wounded.

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Israel stepped up its attacks Tuesday night - most intense airstrikes in Gaza since the bombardment in 2014, flattening a high-rise building used by the Hamas militant group and killing at least three militants in their hideouts as Palestinian rockets rained down almost nonstop on the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon.

Since Monday, the buzz of the Israeli fighter jets and drones mixed with the sounds of the bombs were heard all over the Gaza Strip, as gray and black smokes could be easily seen billowing into the sky as result of the Israeli bombings or the firing of rockets by Gaza militants.

The rocket fire came after Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued an ultimatum demanding Israel stand down its security forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after days of violence against Palestinians.

Israeli police stormed the compound on Monday for a third consecutive day, firing rubber-coated steel rounds, stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian worshippers inside the mosque in the final days of the holy month of Ramadan.

More than 700 Palestinians were hurt in Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank in recent days.

"Worst in recent history"

The current wave of violence between Israel and Gaza militant groups is the first of its kind since the last large-scale air and ground offensive that Israel waged on the Palestinian enclave for 50 days in 2014.

Hamas spokesman in Gaza Fawzi Barhoum said in a press statement that Hamas is determined not to pull back from the equation of escalation.

"If Israel strikes, the armed resistance strikes back," he vowed.

"Civilians are target"

On Tuesday, Israeli fighter jets struck a 14-floor high-rise building in western Gaza city after the Israeli army asked its inhabitants to evacuate. However, Hamas warned Israel against targeting populated houses and buildings.

After destroying the building, the al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas' armed wing, claimed responsibility for firing 130 rockets from the Gaza Strip at Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel.

The group said in a short text message that firing the rockets was in response to Israel's targeting of the high-rise building and many other apartments in the Gaza Strip.

"Targeting homes and buildings on purpose expressed how brutal the criminal occupation is," Barhoum said, adding that the Palestinian armed resistance "will protect the Palestinian people and will keep defending them."


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