Israel strikes kill 33, taking Gaza toll to 182, including 52 children

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A Palestinian man carries a dead child taken out of the rubble of a destroyed residential building following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Sunday, May 16, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Gaza: Israeli air strikes killed 33 Palestinians, including 13 children, in Gaza early on Sunday, Gaza health officials said, and militants fired rockets into Israel as hostilities stretched into a seventh day.

The pre-dawn attacks were on houses in the centre of Gaza City, health officials said. A spokesman for the Israeli military said he would look into these reports.

The death toll in Gaza jumped to 181, including 52 children, since the fighting erupted last Monday. In Israel, 10 people including two children have been killed in rocket attacks by Hamas and other militant groups.

With no sign of an end to the worst outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence in years, the United Nations Security Council was due to meet later on Sunday to discuss the situation.

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

Palestinians working to clear rubble from a building wrecked in Sunday’s air strikes recovered the bodies of a woman and man.

“These are moments of horror that no one can describe. Like an earthquake hit the area,” said Mahmoud Hmaid, a father of seven who was helping with the rescue efforts.

Israel’s security cabinet was due to meet later Sunday to discuss the hostilities. 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”.

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A man carried a child killed by Israel in Gaza. Image Credit: AP

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded all sides on Saturday that “any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

There has been a flurry of US diplomacy in recent days to try to quell the violence.

President Joe Biden’s envoy, Hady Amr, arrived in Israel on Friday for talks. Biden spoke with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas late on Saturday, the White House said.

But any mediation is complicated by the fact that the United States and most Western powers do not talk to Hamas, which they regard as a terrorist organisation.

In Israel, the conflict has been accompanied by violence among the country’s mixed communities of Jews and Arabs, with synagogues attacked and Arab-owned shops vandalised.

There has also been an upsurge in deadly clashes in the occupied West Bank. At least 15 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank since Friday, most of them during clashes.