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Israel-Palestine conflict: Gaza burns as diplomacy fails

Reuters/Gaza City
Filed on May 16, 2021 | Last updated on May 16, 2021 at 12.35 am
AFP

Death toll is rising from the worst escalation since 2014


Israel pounded Gaza on Saturday, destroying a tower block that housed news media organisations, while Palestinian fired rockets with no sign of an end to almost a week of fighting.

The death toll is rising from the worst escalation since 2014 and diplomacy has so far failed to quell it.

Palestinians say at least 140 people, including 39 children, have been killed in Gaza since the conflict erupted on Monday.

Israel’s military destroyed a tower block in Gaza City on Saturday that housed the Associated Press and other media outlets. Israel gave advance warning of the strike so it could be evacuated.

The strike was condemned by the AP and other media organisations. The US told Israel “that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility”, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Joe Biden in a phone call that Israel is doing everything to avoid harming non-combatants.

Biden also spoke directly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, Abbas’ office said.

Regional and international diplomatic efforts have yet to show any signs of halting hostilities. The foreign ministers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia called for a ceasefire in the fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Hostilities between Israel and Gaza have been accompanied by violence in Israel’s mixed communities of Jews and Arabs.

Palestinians, who each year on May 15 mark Nakba or “Catastrophe” Day — their displacement in the 1948-49 war that accompanied the creation of the modern state of Israel — have reported 11 people killed this week in the occupied West Bank after protesters and Israeli forces clashed. — Reuters

The US Embassy said in a statement that the envoy aimed “to reinforce the need to work towards a sustainable calm”.

Egypt has been pushing for a ceasefire so talks could start, two Egyptian security sources said on Friday.

Hostilities between Israel and Gaza have been accompanied by violence in Israel’s mixed communities of Jews and Arabs. Synagogues have been attacked, Arab-owned shops vandalised and street fights have broken out. Israel’s president, who has a largely ceremonial role, has warned of civil war.

Palestinian casualties also extend beyond Gaza. Palestinians, who each year on May 15 mark Nakba or “Catastrophe” Day — their displacement in the 1948-49 war that accompanied the creation of the modern state of Israel — have reported 11 people killed this week in the occupied West Bank after protesters and Israeli forces clashed.

Living conditions for Gaza’s two million people are worsening, with households receiving just four hours a day of power instead of the usual 12, after lines from Israel and Gaza’s sole power station were damaged, officials said. Fuel was also running low.

Israel said on Saturday about 2,300 rockets had been fired from Gaza at Israel since Monday, with about 1,000 intercepted by missile defences and 380 falling into the Gaza Strip.





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