The US President ‘encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians’ and ‘expressed his support for a ceasefire’ during a phone call with his counterpart as it emerged that 42 Palestinians were killed on Sunday in the deadliest day of the conflict so far.
Netanyahu later vowed to ‘continue striking at the terrorist targets’ as the Palestinian death toll climbed to 212 – including 61 children. Israel’s Defence Forces say that 120 Hamas militants have been killed and another 25 are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Ten Israeli civilians, including a child, have been killed in relentless rocket fire from the Strip which has seen colossal retaliatory air strikes on densely populated areas since last Monday.
The IDF said it struck 65 targets overnight, blasting tunnels and underground bunkers used by the militants, known as ‘The Metro’ by the army. Meanwhile Hamas fired 70 rockets – most of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system.
Footage released by the IDF showed an airstrike on what they said was a Hamas ‘suicide submarine’ after militants were spotted launching the autonomous submersible in northern Gaza.
The submarines, capable of carrying up to 66 pounds of explosives and guided by GPS technology, are suspected of attempted attacks on Israeli oil rigs in the Mediterranean.
But despite their breakthroughs against Hamas, Israel faces a growing crisis on three fronts, with an internal battle to quell unrest among Palestinians in the West Bank, and to prevent rocket attacks by terrorists in neighbouring Lebanon.
Palestinian firefighters douse a huge fire at the Foamco mattress factory following an Israeli airstrike, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip
Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave in the early hours of Tuesday
A Palestinian woman stands next to an unexploded bomb dropped by an Israeli F-16 warplane on Gaza City’s Rimal neighbourhood
Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air strike on a building, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City on Tuesday
Rockets are launched towards Israel from the southern Gaza Strip on Monday evening. The IDF said that 70 were fired last night
Palestinian demonstrators burn tires during a protest against the tension in Jerusalem and the Israeli-Gaza fighting, on May 17, 2021 in the occupied West Bank, near the settlement of Beit El next to Ramallah
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of a house destroyed by an early morning Israeli airstrike on Tuesday
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of a six-story building which was destroyed by an early morning Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City
A block of flats destroyed during an Israeli air strike in the early hours of Tuesday
Footage shows the moment of a blast which the IDF say took out a ‘suicide submarine’ after militants were seen launching it into the sea in northern Gaza
Rocket fire from the northern border has increased in recent days amid resentment for the air strikes on Hamas. Terror groups in Lebanon such as Hezbollah back Hamas’ efforts against Israel.
Israeli fire has cratered roads and battered crucial infrastructure in Gaza, causing blackouts and prompting the electricity authority to warn Monday it only had enough fuel left to provide power for another two to three days.
The conflict risks precipitating a humanitarian disaster, with the UN saying nearly 40,000 Palestinians have been displaced and 2,500 have lost their homes.
Palestinian militants have fired around 3,350 rockets toward Israel in the heaviest exchange of fire in years.
Hamas has threatened more rocket strikes on Tel Aviv if bombing of residential areas does not stop.
Late Monday, strikes had knocked out Gaza’s only Covid-19 testing laboratory and damaged the office of the Qatari Red Crescent.
The rate of positive coronavirus tests in Gaza has been among the highest in the world, at 28 percent.
Hospitals in the poverty-stricken territory, which has been under Israeli blockade for almost 15 years, have been overwhelmed by patients.
Gaza resident Roba Abu al-Awf, 20, said she expected a rough night.
‘We have nothing to do but sit at home,’ she said. ‘Death could come at any moment – the bombing is crazy and indiscriminate.’
In the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967, Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas urged Washington to act against ‘Israel’s aggression’, in a meeting with US envoy for Israeli and Palestinian affairs Hady Amr, the official Wafa news agency reported.
Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air strike on a building, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City May 18
Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on a building, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City on Tuesday
Thick black smoke rises from an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday
Even as Security Council ceasefire efforts have faltered and the US has been accused of obstructionism, mediation channels are being opened behind the scenes.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart and the Egyptian government – a key intermediary – on Monday, saying that Washington was engaged in ‘quiet, intensive diplomacy’.
French and Egyptian presidents Emmanuel Macron and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are pushing for a ceasefire deal and aim to get the backing of Jordan. Another channel has been opened, via the UN, with the help of Qatar and Egypt.
European Union foreign ministers will also hold urgent talks on the violence Tuesday, said the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, who has been conducting ‘intense’ diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the fighting.
The Hezbollah and Palestinian flags are flown at the Israeli border as an Israel flag is burned during a protest in Maroun Al-Ras village, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon
Palestinian firefighters attempt to put out a blaze at a sponge factory in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday
Flames rip through a warehouse belonging to a sponge factory in the northern Gaza Strip early on Monday
Israeli soldiers fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip on Monday as fighting continues
Israel has defied international calls for a ceasefire and continues to bombard targets within Gaza today
The conflict was sparked after clashes broke out at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound – one of Islam’s holiest sites – after Israeli forces moved in on worshippers on May 7.
This followed a crackdown against protests over planned evictions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.
Israel is also trying to contain violence between Jews and Israeli Arabs, as well as unrest in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian authorities say Israeli forces have killed 20 Palestinians since May 10.
Abbas’s Fatah movement has called for a ‘day of anger’ and a general strike on Tuesday, a call echoed in Arab and ethnically mixed towns inside Israel.
Palestinians inspect damaged building after airstrikes by Israeli army hit buildings in Gaza City
A man inspects a three storey demolished building after airstrikes by Israeli army hit buildings in Gaza City overnight
Palestinians gather around a car targeted by an Israeli missile in Gaza City as strikes continued on Monday
A Palestinian man stands next to a car that was hit by an Israeli airstrike, near the beach in Gaza City, with three people thought to have died in the strike
A combination picture shows a tower building housing AP, Al Jazeera offices as it collapses after Israeli missile strikes in Gaza city, May 15, 2021