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Israel Palestine

Israel-Gaza fighting enters its second week amid mounting ceasefire calls

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Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group faced mounting international calls for a ceasefire in hostilities that entered their second week on Monday with no end in sight.

World concern deepened with an Israeli airstrike in Gaza that destroyed several homes on Sunday and which Palestinian health officials said killed 42 people, including 10 children, and persistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

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Injecting more urgency into Washington’s calls for calm, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter, “All parties need to deescalate tensions - the violence must end immediately,” after he spoke with Egypt’s foreign minister about the ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

At a meeting on Sunday of the UN Security Council, the United States said it has made clear to Israel, the Palestinians, and others that it is ready to offer support “should the parties seek a ceasefire.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s campaign in Gaza was continuing at “full force,” and that deterrence had to be achieved to prevent future conflict with Hamas.

“We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time,” Netanyahu said in a televised address after his security cabinet met on Sunday.

Just past midnight on Monday, militants launched rockets at the southern Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon. Witnesses said Israeli planes launched dozens of airstrikes. The Israeli military said a Hamas intelligence complex was among the targets.

Rescuers carry a girl as they search for victims amid rubble at the site of Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City May 16, 2021. (Reuters)
Rescuers carry a girl as they search for victims amid rubble at the site of Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City May 16, 2021. (Reuters)

The Gaza Health ministry put the death toll in the densely populated enclave of two million Palestinians at 197, including 58 children and 34 women. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, Israeli authorities say.

Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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