Palestine

Gaza violence enters 3rd day, UN voices concern

A fresh flare-up of violence in the Gaza Strip caused by deadly Israeli airstrikes and retaliatory Palestinian rocket attacks has entered its third day, prompting the United Nations to raise alarm at the “dangerous escalation.”

Tensions erupted on Friday following the killing of four Palestinians, two in an Israeli air raid on southern Gaza and two during the regime’s live fire at anti-occupation protesters near a fence separating the blockaded coastal enclave from the occupied territories.

The Israeli military claimed that its initial aerial assault had come in response to the wounding of two of its soldiers by Palestinian gunfire near the Gaza fence.

The latest rocket fire from Gaza killed a 60-year-old Israeli man. A total of some 83 Israelis have also been wounded.

The Tel Aviv regime says about 430 rockets have been fired at the occupied lands over the past few days. The Israeli army says its warplanes have targeted some 180 sites in the Gaza Strip.

A building housing the offices of the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency in Gaza has also been targeted by Israel. The bombing of the premises has been condemned by the Turkish government.

The Israeli attacks have claimed the lives of a total of seven Palestinians, including Saba Mahmoud Abu Arar, a 14-month-old baby girl, and her 8-month pregnant mother.

The body of Saba Abu Arar, a 14-month-old Palestinian baby girl, lies at the morgue of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, the Gaza Strip, on May 4, 2019. (Photo by AP)

Hamas holds Israel responsible

In a press release on Sunday, Hamas said Israel was to blame for the violence.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum held “the Israeli occupation responsible for any repercussions of its crimes, violations, and rejection to implement the ceasefire understandings.”

Separately, the Gaza Joint Chamber of Military Operations, which comprises various Palestinian resistance factions, said that the groups had “decided to respond to the occupation’s crimes in the Gaza Strip in an unprecedented way.”

“Given the insistence of the enemy to target civilians’ homes, the resistance decided to respond in an unprecedented manner to the crimes of the occupation,” it said, without providing further details.

UN expresses worries

The UN’s Middle East envoy said he was “deeply concerned by yet another dangerous escalation in Gaza,” adding that the world body and Egypt were attempting to broker an end to the fighting.

“The United Nations is working with Egypt and all sides to calm the situation. I call on all parties to immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months. Those who seek to destroy them will bear responsibility for a conflict that will have grave consequences for all,” Nikolay Mladenov said in a statement.

“Continuing down the current path of escalation will quickly undo what has been achieved and destroy the chances for long-term solutions to the crisis. This endless cycle of violence must end, and efforts must accelerate to realize a political solution to the crisis in Gaza,” he added.

The Israeli regime carries out regular attacks on the Gaza Strip under the pretext of hitting positions belonging to the Hamas resistance movement.

Last month, Israel and Hamas reached ceasefire “understandings” brokered by Egypt after a round of hostilities earlier.

Palestine condemns Israeli aggression

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has strongly condemned the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

“The silence toward Israel’s crimes and violations of international law encourages it to continue committing more crimes against our Palestinian people,” he said in a press statement.

Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip, on May 4, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also stressed that the “heinous” offensive “reveals the reality of the racist aggression committed by the Zionist American coalition against the Palestinian people.”

It also said that the Palestinian people were not in need of aid projects but rather a firm international position that enables them to exercise their right to self-determination.

The ministry further called on the UN Security Council to act immediately in order to stop the brutal Israeli aggression on the Palestinian nation.

The coastal sliver of land has been under a siege by Israel since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008. 

It has also been the scene of deadly tensions since March 30, 2018, which marked the start of the anti-occupation Great March of Return protests, with participants demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression.

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