The Israeli Army launched heavy airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, claiming to have destroyed nine miles of militia tunnels and the homes of nine suspected Hamas commanders.
Gazans, who were awakened by the shelling before dawn, described it as the strongest since the war began a week ago, even more powerful than the wave of the previous day’s attacks in Gaza City, which killed 42 people and destroyed three buildings.
At first there was no news about the victims of the latest attacks. A three-story building in Gaza City was badly damaged, although residents said the army had given them 10 minutes before the attack and everyone was able to get out.
Many of the projectiles landed on nearby farmland, they said.
THE ATTACKS CONTINUE ONE WEEK AFTER THE CRISIS START
The attacks caused significant damage to roads and other infrastructure, Gaza Mayor Yahya Sarraj told Al-Jazeera television. “If the aggression continues, we expect conditions to worsen,” he said.
He also warned that the territory is running out of fuel and spare parts. The United Nations has warned that Gaza’s only power station is at risk of running out of fuel.
These calls to stop the violence were the general trend in the interventions of the members of the Security Council.
The territory already suffers daily blackouts of between 8 and 12 hours, and the tap water is not drinkable.
The war began last Monday when Hamas sent long-range rockets into Jerusalem after weeks of clashes in Old Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.
The protests focused on aggressive police interventions at a disputed place of worship during the holy month of Ramadan and the threat of eviction of dozens of Palestinian families at the behest of Jewish settlers.
Palestinian insurgents have fired some 1,800 projectiles and Israel launched more than 600 airstrikes that brought down at least three apartment blocks.
Since then, the Israeli army has carried out hundreds of airstrikes, which it says are targeting Hamas’s military infrastructure. Palestinian militiamen in Hamas have fired more than 3,100 rockets at Israel.
At least 188 Palestinians have been killed in hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza, including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 people injured.
Eight people have been killed in Israel by rocket attacks from Gaza, including a five-year-old boy and a soldier.
The offensive is intensified in the face of a possible invasion.
“I have not seen this level of destruction in my 14 years of work,” said Samir al-Khatib, a rescue services official in Gaza. “Not even in the 2014 war,” he added, referring to the most destructive of the four wars that Israel and Hamas have fought.
The army said it had attacked nine houses in different parts of northern Gaza that belonged to “high-ranking commanders” in Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled the territory since it seized control from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.
In recent days, Israel has attacked the homes of various Hamas leaders, such as Yehiyeh Sinwar, its top boss in Gaza.
Israeli forces have targeted some areas with gunfire from tanks stationed near the Gaza border. The armed conflict has been going on for five days and more than 100 dead.
The leadership of the group is secluded in an unknown location when the fighting begins, and it was unlikely that their leaders were at home at the time of the attacks.
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group say that at least 20 of its fighters have been killed, although Israel claims the figure is much higher and has released the names and photos of more than two dozen militia commanders it says it has “eliminated.”
The Army said it had hit 35 “terrorist targets” in addition to the tunnels, which it described as part of a complex system dubbed the “Metro” that fighters use to evade planes. 54 aircraft participated in the operation.
Israel and Hamas are on the brink of a full-scale war.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised speech on Sunday that the attacks would continue at “full force” and “will take a while.” Israel, he said, “wants to charge a high price” to Hamas.
The airstrikes have brought down several of the tallest buildings in Gaza City, which Israel said contained Hamas military infrastructure. Among them was the building that housed the offices of The Associated Press and other outlets.
Sally Buzbee, executive director of the AP, has called for an independent investigation into the attack that destroyed the AP office on Saturday. The Israeli Army alerted the workers and residents of the building and they were all able to evacuate the building safely before the attack.
The memories today are the three wars of 2008, 2012 and 2014, the latter the bloodiest, with more than 2,200 Palestinian fatalities and 73 Israelis.
Netanyahu claims that Hamas intelligence services operated in the building, and on Sunday said he would share any information about it through intelligence channels.
Neither the White House nor the State Department said if they had received information.
The AP worked from that building for 15 years, which included three previous wars between Israel and Hamas. The agency’s cameras, operating from its office and top-floor terrace, provided 24-hour live coverage and showed rockets heading towards Israel and Israeli strikes hitting the city and its surroundings.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.