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Israeli-Palestinian conflict rages in Middle East; more than 60 people dead, including an Indian women

GAZA: On the one hand, the world is battling the deadly coronavirus pandemic, while on the other hand, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is raging in the Middle East. Many have already lost their lives, including an Indian woman. Buildings and other structures collapsed on a large scale. Both have suffered extensive damage. The US and the UN are trying to solve the issue, but no significant progress has been made.

Indications are that clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem have sparked violence during the holy month of Ramadan. The clashes and attacks erupted during a court hearing in a case involving the eviction of Palestinian families from homes in East Jerusalem that claim to belong to Jewish immigrants. The court adjourned the case due to the conflict.

Negotiations between rivals to form a governing coalition and replace Benjamin Netanyahu, who remains in power amid the uncertainty surrounding Israel’s election, have also resulted in conflict.  

The Palestinians are frustrated that the demand for an independent state has suffered setbacks in recent years. Meanwhile, Palestinians accuse Washington of bias in recognizing disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It is learned that Israel has deployed a large contingent of troops in addition to tanks at the border, similar to 2014.

US-UN interventions

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the situation as “harrowing,” and said he would send a senior aide, Hady Amr, to intervene to help calm things down.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced his “ironclad support for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for an emergency meeting of the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to halt violence.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stated that the UN is completely prepared to resume the work of the quartet and facilitate dialogue between the two sides. The UN Security Council also convened an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis.

At least 62 people died so far

Israel said it killed 16 members of the Hamas militant group in Gaza in a barrage and Palestinian militants rained rockets into Israel. Enclave’s health ministry says at least 56 people have been killed since violence escalated in Gaza on Monday. Six people have died in Israel, medical officials said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the brigade commander for Gaza City was among the group who had been killed. “This is just the beginning. We’ll hit them like they’ve never dreamed possible,” Mr. Netanyahu added. Shortly after the announcement, a new rocket barrage was fired at the Israeli city of Ashdod.  The military then prepared for new strikes on the Tel Aviv area.

Hamas has confirmed the deaths of the commander and other leaders. “The confrontation with the enemy is open-ended,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Palestinian sources said efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to end the conflict and clashes in East Jerusalem had made no progress.

Attack will continue to restore long-term calm

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said Israel will continue to attack Hamas until long-term calm is restored.

In Gaza, Israeli airstrikes damaged a multi-storey residential building as well as a tower housing Hamas and other media outlets. The Israel’s military destroyed rocket launch sites, Hamas offices and the homes of Hamas leaders. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, 24 people were killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza yesterday.

Witnesses and health officials in Gaza say three people, including a woman, have been killed in an Israeli airstrike. Many Israelis have had a sleepless night as Hamas fired rockets into Israel’s heartland. Most of them ran to shelters in some communities far from Gaza.

Situation in Middle East is similar to 2014

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas is considered to be the biggest battle since a 2014 war in the Hamas-ruled enclave. Concerns are growing that the situation could get out of control.

An Israeli soldier was killed in a missile attack on the Gaza border. Two people were killed by a rocket in Lod, near Tel Aviv. The airstrikes also sparked clashes in mixed Arab-Jewish towns in Israel. Police have deployed paramilitary reinforcements here and declared a curfew.

US energy corporation Chevron said the Tamar natural gas platform off the Israeli coast was shut down on the instructions of the Energy Ministry.

Hamas said it had fired 210 rockets towards Beersheba in southern Israel and Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital, in response to an attack on a tower building in Gaza City. The targeting of Tel Aviv posed a new challenge for Israel in its conflict with Hamas. The Gaza Ministry of Health said 14 of those killed in the enclave were children.

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