Clashes between Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel have caused at least 70 deaths and prompted the mobilization of the international community to prevent a full-scale war.
The Islamist movement Hamas announced a barrage of 130 rockets against Israeli territory, bringing the number of projectiles launched from the tiny Palestinian enclave to approximately 1,500 since the conflict began to degenerate last Monday, according to the Israeli army.
Hamas warned that this new attack was a response to the destruction of a large 10-storey building in Gaza, where, among others, the offices of the local television network Al Qods were located.
The attacks were constant throughout the day, on both sides of the border. In the Gaza Strip, 65 people died, of which 16 were children.
On the Israeli side, at least seven fatalities were reported. A soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile and a six-year-old boy was killed by a shell explosion in Sederot.
The Israeli army reported a rocket fire alert in northern Israel for the first time since the start of the fighting. Until now the objectives had been limited to the center and south of the country.
Hamas also acknowledged the deaths of several commanders, including Bassem Issa, head of its military branch in Gaza City.
US President Joe Biden affirmed that Israel has the right to defend itself, but that after speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he hopes that the clashes with the Palestinians will end soon.
The UN Security Council held another meeting on the conflict on Wednesday, again without reaching an agreement for a statement due to opposition from the United States, Israel’s main ally.
Russia for its part called for the urgent meeting of the Quartet for the Middle East, which also groups the European Union and the UN.
During a visit to Moscow, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, called for the de-escalation to protect the lives of civilians who die in absolutely unacceptable conditions.
“Everything possible should be done to prevent a broader conflict,” added the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell.
Diplomatic sources affirmed that the UN, with the help of Qatar and Egypt, initiated mediation with the affected parties to achieve detente. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called instead to teach Israel a lesson.
Israeli television broadcast shocking images Wednesday night of a far-right mob beating a man – who they considered an Arab – until he was knocked unconscious on a street in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv. “The lynching victim is seriously injured, but stable,” said a medical source.
The current wave of violence began after the weekend riots at the Esplanade of the Mosques, Islam’s third holiest site, in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967.
In the occupied West Bank, three Palestinians have already been killed, but the bulk of the fighting is taking place in Gaza, under the control of the more radical armed Palestinian armed groups.
The vast majority of Hamas rockets are intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, but not all.
In Givatayim, in the heart of Israel, a town that had never before been hit by projectiles, the inhabitants were terrified.
“All the windows in my house were blown out and the walls were cracked,” explained Galit Bialobopolo, 50.
And the tension has also exploded harshly in a mixed town, Lod, with a 40% Arab population, in which serious disturbances took place the day before.
A violence that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin described as a pogrom by “a bloodthirsty Arab crowd.” Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in the city.
Some observers fear civil unrest will escalate. In several mixed cities across the country, protesters carrying Palestinian flags burned cars and property, attacked motorists and clashed with police.