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Gaza City, Gaza Strip – Medics said that the Israeli air strikes on Gaza City destroyed three buildings and killed at least 33 people on Sunday, making it the bloodiest attack since the outbreak of fierce fighting between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement, which rules the strip, nearly a week ago.
One of the rescuers was seen screaming in a hole among the rubble. “can you hear me?” Called. “Are you okay?” Minutes later, first responders managed to remove one of the survivors and load him on an orange stretcher. The Gaza Health Ministry said 12 women and eight children were among the dead, and 50 others were wounded in the attack.
Earlier, the Israeli military said it destroyed the home of Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar in a separate raid in the southern town of Khan Yunis. This is the third attack of its kind in the past two days on the homes of senior Hamas leaders who have entered underground.
It appears that Israel has intensified its strikes in recent days to damage Hamas as much as possible as international mediators try to broker a ceasefire. But targeting group leaders can hinder these efforts. An American diplomat is in the region to try to de-escalate tensions, and the UN Security Council is scheduled to meet on Sunday.
The latest outbreak of violenceEarlier this month, when Palestinians protested against settlers’ attempts to forcibly evacuate a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mountain in the Old City sacred to Muslims and Jews. Hamas fired rockets towards Jerusalem late Monday, triggering an Israeli attack on Gaza.
The unrest also spread to other places, fueling and fueling protests in the occupied West BankBetween its Jewish and Arab citizens, with clashes and attacks on people and property.
At least 181 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, including 52 children and 31 women, and 1,225 were injured. Eight Israelis were killed, including a five-year-old child and a soldier.
On Sunday, the army said it had bombed Sinwar’s house and the home of his brother Muhammad, another prominent Hamas member. On Saturday, the home of Khalil al-Hayya, a prominent leader in the political branch of Hamas, was destroyed.
The senior Hamas leadership hid in Gaza, and it is unlikely that any of them were at home at the time of the strikes. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh divides his time between Turkey and Qatar, both of which provide political support for the movement.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have admitted that 20 militants have been killed since fighting broke out on Monday. Israel says the true number is much higher and has released the names and photos of 20 alleged activists that it says have been “eliminated.”
An Egyptian diplomat said that Israel’s targeting of Hamas political leaders would complicate ceasefire efforts. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed negotiations, said Cairo was working to mediate an end to the fighting. An American diplomat has also been dispatched to the region, and the UN Security Council is scheduled to meet on Sunday.
The Egyptian diplomat said that destroying Hamas’s missile capabilities would require a ground invasion that would “inflame the entire region.” The official said that Egypt, which concluded peace with Israel decades ago, threatened to “suspend” cooperation in various fields, without going into details.
Hamas and other armed groups fired nearly 2,900 rockets at Israel. The army said 450 rockets were short or ineffective, while Israeli air defenses intercepted 1,150 rockets.
The opposition rate appears to have decreased dramatically since the start of the conflict, when Israel said that 90% were intercepted. The military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes across impoverished Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, and has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
Israel demolished a number of the highest offices and residential buildings in Gaza City, on the grounds that they contained Hamas military infrastructure. On the Sabbath, IsraelThe 12-story Al-Galaa Building, where the Associated Press office was located. The building also houses Al Jazeera TV and other media, along with several floors of apartments.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the campaign will continue as long as it is required.” He claimed that Hamas Military Intelligence was operating inside the building.
Israel routinely cites the presence of Hamas as the reason for targeting specific locations in airstrikes, including residential buildings. The military also accused the militant group of using journalists as human shields, but did not provide evidence to support these allegations.
The AP has operated from the building for 15 years, including during three previous wars between Israel and Hamas. During those conflicts in addition to the current conflict, the news agency’s cameras from its top floor office and roof terrace provided live footage 24 hours a day as militants’ rockets headed towards Israel and hit Israel and the city and its environs.
“We have no indication that Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” President and CEO of the Associated Press, Gary Pruitt He said in a statement. “This is something that we actively verify to the best of our ability. We will not intentionally put our journalists at risk.”
In the afternoon, the army called the owner of the building and warned that the strike would come within an hour. AP personnel and other occupants were safely evacuated. Soon after, three missiles struck and destroyed the building, sending it down in a huge cloud of dust.
“The world will not know much about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Pruitt said. “We are shocked and terrified.”
He said the AP was seeking information from the Israeli government and was working with the US State Department to find out more.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken later spoke by phone with Pruitt, offering his support to independent journalists and media organizations, and the White House said it had communicated directly with Israel to urge the safety of journalists.
The Biden administration affirmed its support for Israel while working to calm the crisis. American diplomat Hady Amr is in the region as part of the mediation efforts to reach a truce.
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