Israel escalates air strikes on Gaza
Israeli strikes in blockaded Gaza kills three Palestinians, Gaza’s health ministry says, raising the death toll in Gaza to seven in 24 hours, and 14 since Israel’s raid began on Sunday. Reports say rockets fired from Gaza killed one Israeli.
Israeli strikes in the northern Gaza killed three Palestinians on Tuesday, Gaza’s health ministry said, raising the death toll in the enclave to seven in the last 24 hours.
Renewed violence in the Palestinian enclave threatened to thwart efforts to end months of unrest as Israeli air strikes killed Palestinians and destroyed a Hamas TV building while a barrage of rocket fire from the enclave left one Israeli dead on Tuesday.
At least 14 Palestinians have been killed so far in Israeli raids triggered first by a botched Israeli operation on Sunday.
Seven people, including a Hamas commander, were killed in that attack. An Israeli soldier was also killed in the fighting.
Since then Israel escalated its aggressive assault with two successive days of attacks by warplanes, helicopters and tanks, which continued on Tuesday.
The fighting casts doubt over recent deals brokered by Egypt and UN officials to reduce tensions.
Stop attacking Gaza – Turkey tells Israel
On Tuesday, Turkey called for end to “Israel’s unlawful, tyranny and occupying attitude” in Gaza.
“Israel should stop these attacks immediately against the people of Gaza,” Turkey’s presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement.
“The world should say ‘stop’ to the invading and expansionist policies of Israel which aims to to turn Palestinian land into an open air prison besides the provocative action of changing the status of Jerusalem. Turkey will continue to support the rightful cause of the Palestinian people.”
On Monday, an air strike destroyed the Gaza City headquarters of Hamas-run Al Aqsa TV.
Workers had evacuated the building and there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the bombing as “a barbaric, brazen aggression.”
Ten minutes later, the station resumed broadcasts, airing pre-recorded national songs.
Israel said the station “broadcasts violent propaganda” and provides “operational messaging to militants.”
Thousands of Palestinian mourners buried those killed in Sunday’s attack. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh led the funeral prayers.
Wars in Gaza since 2007
Israel forces and Hamas have fought three wars since Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, in 2007.
In the most recent, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed, more than half of them civilians, and tens of thousands were left homeless.
Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza since the Hamas takeover.
The blockade has devastated Gaza’s economy.
Unemployment is over 50 percent, the territory suffers from chronic power outages and most residents are unable to travel abroad.
For over seven months, Hamas has been leading protests along the Israel-Gaza fence aimed in large part at breaking the blockade.
More than 170 Palestinians, most unarmed, have been killed by Israeli forces during the protests. Israel says it is defending its border against infiltration attempts.
Hamas warns of more retaliation
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the armed wing of Hamas threatened to step up its attacks and fire rockets further north toward the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Beersheba if Israel continued its air strikes.
The spokesman for the Hamas military wing, identified only as Abu Obeida, said the attack on the coastal city of Ashkelon showed the city “has entered the range of fire as a response to the bombing of buildings in Gaza.” He said Ashdod and Beersheba “are the next targets if the enemy continues bombing civilian buildings.”
We speak to Palestinian journalist Thaier Abo Oun on the latest developments from Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza.
In recent weeks, Egyptian and UN mediators had appeared to make progress in brokering informal understandings aimed at quieting the situation.
Last week, Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million to Gaza to allow cash-strapped government to pay the salaries of thousands of workers.
At the same time, Gaza’s government has lowered the intensity of the border protests in recent weeks.
However, the recent tension since Sunday appears to be escalating since Israeli forces continue to deploy more troops to near the fence with Gaza.