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Netanyahu pledges massive strikes in Gaza as death toll rises

last update : 05/05/2019 - 08:28 PM ( Since 3 weeks )

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GAZA, (Alresalah.ps) --Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has ordered "massive strikes" in the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation that killed nine Palestinians and three Israelis.

Israeli warplanes and gunboats continued to target the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as dozens of rockets were also fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

The Palestinian victims included a pregnant woman and her one-year-old niece. In the Israeli city of Ashkelon, a 58-year-old Israeli man was killed after being struck by shrapnel from a rocket strike. Two other Israelis, critically wounded in a separate rocket strike on a factory on Sunday afternoon, later died.

"This morning I instructed the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to continue with massive strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu, who doubles as Israeli defence minister, said in a statement after consulting with his security cabinet on Sunday.

"I also instructed that forces around the Gaza Strip be stepped up with tank, artillery and infantry forces.

"Hamas is responsible not only for its attacks against Israel, but also for the Islamic Jihad's attacks, and it is paying a very heavy price for it," he added.

A Palestinian man sits on the debris of a building that was destroyed in Israeli air attacks in Gaza City [Suhaib Salem/Reuters]

The government media office in Gaza said Israeli warplanes carried out about 150 raids, in addition to artillery-shelling targeting 200 civilian landmarks in the Gaza Strip, including residential buildings, mosques, shops and media institutions.

About 70 Palestinians were wounded in the attacks, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Gaza resident Um Alaa Abu Absa spent Sunday picking up broken glass and debris inside her property in the aftermath of the air raids.

"There was a lot of bombing, the neighbours were affected a lot, the street scene was indescribable, people were afraid and terrified and running, and everyone was looking for their children, nobody was able to see others," Abu Absa said.

One of the buildings destroyed had housed the Gaza bureau of the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency.

"We call on the international community to act swiftly in order to ease tensions that have increased due to Israel's disproportionate actions in the region," a Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

The damaged al-Gussin apartment building after Israeli air raids in Gaza City [Anadolu Agency]

On Sunday, the Israeli army denied that Falastine Abu Arar, the 37-year-old pregnant mother, and her 14-month old niece Siba, were killed by Israeli forces, instead blaming a misfiring of a Palestinian rocket.

Two Palestinian men, 22-year-old Imad Nseir and 25-year-old Khaled Abu Qaleeq, were also killed by Israeli air raids on Saturday night.

In the early afternoon, two more Palestinians were killed after an Israeli air raid targeted a group of people in the eastern Gaza City neighbourhood of Shujayea, the health ministry said. The men were identified as Bilal Mohammed al-Banna and Abdullah Abu Atta, said to be in their 20s.

Shortly after, in what Palestinians are calling the first targeted assassination since 2014, Israeli air strikes hit the car of  34-year-old Hamed Ahmed al-Khoudary in Gaza City. Three other Palestinians were wounded.

The Israeli army acknowledged it has killed Khoudary, saying he was the man in charge of large-scale money transfers from Iran to Gaza.

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