Israel bombs home of Hamas Gaza chief

Palestinians inspect their house after it was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza Strip on May 16, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Israel bombed the home of Hamas’ chief Yehya Al-Sinwar in Gaza early on Sunday and sirens warning of rocket attacks sounded in Israeli border towns shortly after dawn as hostilities stretched into a seventh day with no sign of abating.

At least 153 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday, including 42 on Sunday, the highest daily death toll in a single day. Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.

The Security Council met on Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded all sides “that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric in a statement on Saturday.

Both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the enclave, insisted they would continue their cross-border fire after Israel destroyed a 12-storey building in Gaza City that housed the U.S. Associated Press and the Qatar-based Al Jazeera media operations. The Israel military said the al-Jala building was a legitimate military target, containing Hamas military offices.

The AP condemned the attack, and asked Israel to put forward evidence. “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” it said in a statement.

In what Hamas called a reprisal for Israel’s destruction of the al-Jala building, Hamas fired 120 rockets overnight, the Israeli military said, with many intercepted and around a dozen falling short and landing in Gaza. Israelis dashed for bomb shelters as sirens warning of incoming rocket fire blared in Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba. Around 10 people were injured while running for shelters, medics said.

In a burst of air strikes early on Sunday, the Israeli military said it struck the home of Yehya Al-Sinwar in the southern Gaza City of Khan Younis. Mr. Sinwar, who was released from an Israeli prison in 2011, heads the political and military wings of the Hamas in Gaza.

Another air strike killed a Gaza neurologist and wounded his wife and daughter, Palestinian medics and relatives said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address late on Saturday that Israel was “still in the midst of this operation, it is still not over and this operation will continue as long as necessary”.

Hamas began its rocket assault on Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.

Speaking to crowds of protesters in Doha, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said late on Saturday the underlying cause of the hostilities was Jerusalem. “I say to Netanyahu: do not play with fire,” he said, amid cheers from the crowd. “The title of this battle today, the title of the war, and the title of the intifada, is Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” using the Arabic word for ‘uprising’.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 4:17:46 PM |

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