NewsIsraelIsrael claims to have destroyed tunnels with bombing raids in Gaza

    Israel claims to have destroyed tunnels with bombing raids in Gaza

    The Israeli army launched heavy air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, in which it said it destroyed 15 kilometers (9 miles) of militia tunnels and the homes of nine alleged Hamas commanders.

    Neighbors in Gaza, awakened by the pre-dawn shelling, described it as the heaviest since the start of the war a week ago, even more powerful than the previous day’s wave of attacks in Gaza City, which killed 42 people and destroyed three buildings.

    There was initially no news on casualties from the latest attacks. A three-story building in Gaza City was badly damaged, although residents said the Army had warned them 10 minutes before the attack and everyone was able to leave. Many of the shells landed on nearby farmland, they said.

    The attacks caused major damage to roads and other infrastructure, Gaza Mayor Yahya Sarraj told Al-Jazeera television. If the aggression continues, we expect conditions to worsen, he said.

    He also warned that the territory is running out of fuel and spare parts. The United Nations has warned that Gaza’s only power plant is at risk of running out of fuel. The territory already suffers daily blackouts of between eight and 12 hours, and tap water is undrinkable.

    Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for the Gazan electricity distribution company, said he had enough fuel to serve Gaza for two or three more days. Air strikes have affected supply routes and the company’s staff cannot reach areas affected by the ongoing Israeli attacks, he added.

    The war began last Monday when Hamas sent long-range rockets into Jerusalem after weeks of clashes in the Old Jerusalem area between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police. The protests centered on aggressive police interventions at a disputed place of worship during the holy month of Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families at the behest of Jewish settlers.

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    Since then, the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of airstrikes, which it says target Hamas’ military infrastructure. Palestinian militiamen in Hamas have fired more than 3,100 rockets into Israel.

    At least 198 Palestinians have been killed in hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza, including 58 children and 35 women, with 1,230 people injured. Eight people have been killed in Israel by rocket attacks from Gaza, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier.

    I have not seen this level of destruction in my 14 years of work, said Samir al-Khatib, a rescue services official in Gaza. Not even in the 2014 war, he added, alluding to the most destructive of the four wars fought by Israel and Hamas.

    The army said it struck nine houses at different points in northern Gaza belonging to senior commanders in Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled the territory since wresting control from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.

    In recent days, Israel has targeted homes of several Hamas leaders, including Yehiyeh Sinwar, its top chief in Gaza. The group’s top leadership secludes itself in an unknown location when fighting begins, and its leaders were unlikely to be at home at the time of the attacks.

    Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, although Israel claims the figure is much higher and has released the names and photographs of more than two dozen militia commanders it says it has eliminated.

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    The army said it hit 35 terrorist targets” in addition to the tunnels, which it described as part of a complex system dubbed Metro” used by fighters to evade aircraft. The operation involved 54 aircraft.

    Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday in a televised address that the strikes would continue at full strength and would take some time. Israel, he said, wants to exact a heavy price from Hamas.

    Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who resides abroad, said the group has been in contact with the United States, Russia, Egypt and Qatar within cease-fire efforts, but will not accept a solution that does not live up to the sacrifices of the Palestinian people.

    In an interview with the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, he blamed Israeli actions in Jerusalem for provoking the war and said that the rockets paralyze the usurper entity (Israel) by imposing a curfew on its citizens and closing its ports and airports.

    Egypt’s President Abdul Fatah el Sisi said his government is working to end the violence urgently, in his first statements since the war began. Egypt, which borders Gaza and Israel, has played a key role in cease-fire agreements brokered after other rounds of fighting.

    An Egyptian diplomat said efforts are focused on two issues: halting all attacks by both sides and stopping Israeli measures on disputed Jerusalem that helped spark the fighting. Among those measures are police raids on Palestinian protesters in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as planned evictions of Palestinians at the behest of Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem.

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    The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to comment on confidential diplomatic talks, noted that the mediators are counting on the administration of Joe Biden, the U.S. president, to pressure Israel to halt its offensive, and that they expected action within the next 48 hours.

    Israeli air strikes have brought down several of Gaza City’s tallest buildings, which Israel said contained Hamas military infrastructure. Among them was the building housing the offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets.

    Sally Buzbee, AP executive director, has called for an independent investigation into the attack that destroyed the AP office on Saturday. The Israeli Army alerted workers and residents of the property and all were able to evacuate the building safely before the attack.

    Netanyahu claims that Hamas intelligence services were operating in the building, and on Sunday said he would share any information about it through intelligence channels. Neither the White House nor the State Department said whether they had received information.

    AP worked from that building for 15 years, which included three previous wars between Israel and Hamas. The agency’s cameras, which operated from its office and rooftop terrace on the top floor, provided 24-hour live coverage and showed rockets leaving for Israel and Israeli strikes hitting the city and its environs.

    Jacob Anderson
    Jacob Anderson
    Jacob Anderson is Journalist and Political Analysis of Awutar. You can get him via: [email protected]


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