As the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip enters its second week, Israel announced the bombing of what it said were tunnels used by Hamas to fire barrage rockets at Israeli cities.
The renewed bombing follows a night of heavy Israeli air strikes on areas across Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel’s occupation forces said “Gaza militants” had fired about 60 rockets towards Israeli cities overnight, down from 120 and 200 the two previous nights.
A Palestinian sponge factory in northern Gaza was hit in a morning air strike leaving firefighters battling to quell the blaze. Plumes of smoke could be seen billowing into the air. A Palestinian was killed in an air strike later in the morning, medics said.
With the sounds of Israeli strikes continuing throughout the morning, Gaza residents rushed to bakeries and pharmacies to stock up on bread and other essentials.
Umm Naeem, a 50-year-old mother of five, was quoted by the media as saying, “My children couldn’t sleep all night even after the wave of intensive bombing stopped.”
She added, “What is happening to us is too much, but Jerusalem deserves all the sacrifices.”
Gaza health officials said that the death toll has increased to 198, including 58 children and 34 women. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, Israeli authorities say.
Meanwhile, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), announced Monday that it was targeting an Israeli warship off Gaza’s coast, in an unprecedented development since the beginning of the Israeli aggression on the area.
Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday, after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. It also comes in retaliation for clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
International calls for a ceasefire between the two sides have mounted, with world concern having already deepened after an Israeli air strike in Gaza that destroyed several homes on Sunday. Palestinian health officials said 42 people were killed in the attack, including 10 children, with persistent rocket attacks continuing on Israeli towns.
“All parties need to de-escalate tensions, and the violence must end immediately”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter, injecting more urgency into Washington’s calls for calm after speaking with Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry.
At a UN Security Council meeting on Sunday, the US said it had made it clear to Israel and the Palestinians that it was ready to offer support “should the parties seek a ceasefire”.
On Monday, Shoukry discussed the developments in the Palestinian territories and the escalation in the Gaza Strip during telephone calls with his Greek and Dutch counterparts.
Earlier on Sunday, Shoukry received a phone call from Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani.
The two ministers agreed on the importance of working to reach an immediate ceasefire between the two sides. They also agreed to continue coordination in the bilateral framework as well as in regional and international frameworks on what is in the interest of the Palestinian people.