Air Strikes, Rocket Attacks: At Least 65 Dead in Gaza, 7 in Israel

At least 65 people, including 17 children, have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza,

3 min read
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At least 65 people, including 17 children, have been killed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza, amid the “worst violence in years” between Israelis and Palestinians, reported CNN.

Meanwhile, seven have been killed in Israel in rocket attacks by militants in Gaza.

As the violence that began on Monday continued even on Wednesday, 13 May, some of the most rattling reported instances of violence that have emerged from Wednesday include:

  • An Israeli air strike flattened the Al-Shorouk Tower, a 14-storey building in the southern Gaza strip, taking the death toll to at least 65. Gaza has few bomb shelters and no air defence system, reported CNN.
  • While the Israel Defence Force (IDF) has claimed the tower that housed Hamas military intelligence offices, Palestinian Health Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said Israel had deliberately targeted civilian homes and crowded residential neighbourhoods, adding that 43 percent of the victims of the strikes in Gaza were children and women.
  • Approximately 130 rockets were fired by Gaza militants that hit Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, forcing Israel's main international airport, Ben Gurion, to close. Thousands of Israelis stayed the night in bomb shelters.
  • CNN quoted an emergency reporter as saying that a six-year-old boy became the seventh Israeli fatality when a rocket fired from Gaza struck a residential building in Sderot.

What US Secy of State Said

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed concern about “what we’re seeing in Israel, West Bank and Gaza” but has also reportedly backed Israel’s right to protect itself. As per Reuters, however, he added that Israel had a particular obligation to avoid civilian casualties.

Further, the White House, was quoted in reports, as saying:

“US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conveyed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”

Stating that America believes Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live with safety and security and that they will continue to engage with all parties involved to “urge de-escalation and bring calm”, Blinken informed that he has asked Deputy Assistant Secretary of State to go to the region immediately to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

“US remains committed to a two-state solution. This violence takes us further away from that goal. We fully support Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself. We’ve condemned and I condemn again the rocket attacks in strongest possible terms.”   
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State

After speaking to Netanyahu, Blinken rang up Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, reportedly, in a bid to de-escalate tensions.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s office has put out a statement saying:

“Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Blinken for the US support for Israel’s right to self-defense, a right that the secretary of state reiterated in this call.”   

‘Please Stop This Madness’

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has, on his part, made an appeal on TV to “please stop this madness”.

Pointing out that the President’s role is “largely ceremonial”, Reuters quoted him as saying: "We are endangered by rockets that are being launched at our citizens and streets, and we are busying ourselves with a senseless civil war among ourselves.”

Meanwhile, the Tor Wennesland, United Nations Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process, in a tweet, warned that the region was hurtling towards a full-scale war. He also pointed out that “the cost of war in Gaza is devastating and is being paid by ordinary people”.

“Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation. The cost of war in Gaza is devastating and is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now.”   
Tor Wennesland, United Nations Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process

(With inputs from CNN, Reuters and ANI.)

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