Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway

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Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway
Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway :File Photo

Israeli jets killed 33 Palestinians in a fresh attack, including eight children while Chinese State Councilor Wang Yi chairing UNSC meeting.

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 hostilities.

The death toll in Gaza overnight jumped to 181, including 47 children, amid an intensive Israeli air and artillery barrage since the fighting erupted last Monday.

Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway
Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway :File Photo

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

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

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“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.

The Israeli military said that Hamas have fired more than 2,800 rockets from the enclave in six days.

Many of the rockets have been intercepted by an Israeli anti-missile system while some have fallen short of the border.

Israel’s security cabinet met on Sunday to discuss the next steps, amid diplomatic efforts to restore calm.

Benjamin Netanyahu said 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”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded all sides on Saturday that “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.

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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.

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 the absence of a diplomatic breakthrough, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing in southern Gaza on Sunday, a day earlier than planned after the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday, to ease passage for people needing medical treatment and other humanitarian cases.

Both Israel and Hamas said they would continue their cross-border fire after Israel destroyed a 12-storey building in Gaza City on Saturday that housed the U.S. Associated Press and Qatar-based Al Jazeera media operations.

Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway
Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway :File Photo

The Israel military said the al-Jala building was a legitimate military target, containing Hamas military offices, and that it had given advance 10 minutes warnings to civilians to get out of the building.

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.

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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.

In Israel, the conflict has created anger and polarisation, with violence between communities in mixed Jewish-Arab towns. Synagogues have been attacked and Arab-owned shops vandalised, with Israel’s president warning against a slide into civil war.

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.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on Sunday for an immediate halt to Israel’s barbaric attacks on Gaza and blamed “systematic crimes” against the Palestinians for hostilities now in their seventh day.

Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway
Israel air strikes kill 33 Palestinians while UN security council meeting underway :File Photo

The OIC statement came after a virtual meeting in which Saudi Arabia condemned the violation of the sanctity of Muslim holy sites and evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

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The 57-member body accused the United Nations Security Council of inertia. Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei issued a separate statement on Sunday, tweeted by Malaysia’s premier, calling for an emergency UN General Assembly meeting.