GAZA/TEL AVIV, May 17
Israel killed a senior Palestinian militant commander in heavy airstrikes on Gaza on Monday and Islamist groups renewed rocket attacks on Israeli cities despite mounting international calls for a ceasefire. As the fiercest hostilities in the region in years entered a second week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged all sides to protect civilians and said Washington was working intensively behind the scenes to halt the conflict.
US working to end violence: Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged all parties in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians to protect civilians and said the United States was working “intensively” to put an end to the violence. Fighting spilled into a second week on Monday as Israel bombed what it said were underground tunnels used by Hamas and Palestinian militants fired rocket barrages at Israeli cities.Reuters
Gaza health officials put the Palestinian death toll since the hostilities flared last week at 201, including 58 children and 34 women. Ten persons have been killed in Israel, including two children, the Israeli authorities say. The killing of Hussam Abu Harbeed, Islamic Jihad’s armed commander for north Gaza, was likely to draw a fierce response from the militant group that is fighting alongside Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs the coastal enclave.
Three Palestinians killed
- At least three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a car in Gaza City on Monday, medics said, after a night of heavy Israeli airstrikes.
- Israel’s military said Gaza militants fired about 60 rockets towards Israeli cities overnight, down from 120 and 200 the two previous nights.
- Israel bombed what its military said was 15 km (nine miles) of underground tunnels used by Hamas after Palestinian militants fired rockets.
The Israeli military said in a statement that Harbeed had been “behind several anti-tank missile terror attacks against Israeli civilians”, and an Israeli general said his country could carry on the fight “forever”.
Militant groups in Gaza also gave no sign that an end to fighting was imminent. Soon after Harbeed’s death, Islamic Jihad said it had fired rockets at Ashdod. — Reuters