At least 50 people were killed on Tuesday during clashes between the Israeli army and the Hamas Islamic militia in the Gaza Strip and in several parts of Israel. The intersection of aerial offensives, coupled with aggression on the ground between Arabs and Jews, has led to a new outbreak of violence in the region comparable only to that recorded in 2014, in the so-called Silent Intifada. For the time being, the escalation of the war is escalating despite attempts at mediation by the international community.
Plumes of grey smoke and debris have flooded Gaza City after more than 40 air strikes by the Israeli army on Tuesday night. The attack has killed 48 Palestinians, including 14 children, and reportedly injured up to 296 people, according to the latest figures released by Gaza's Ministry of Health. Earlier on Wednesday, Hamas responded by firing a guided missile at an Israeli vehicle patrolling the border area, killing one and injuring two. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is monitoring the situation for possible war crimes.
Since the start of hostilities, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have launched more than 1,050 missiles as part of 'Operation Wall Guardian', both in the centre and on the southern border of the country, in the face of continued attacks by Hamas's Islamic Resistance Movement. The Israeli army claims to have killed at least 20 militiamen and to have neutralised during the latest operation the organisation's head of military intelligence, Hassan Kaogi, and his number two, Uail Isa, who headed the counter-espionage and military intelligence department.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to "increase the intensity and quantity" of the bombing. Defence Minister Benny Gantz said military operations would continue in the Gaza Strip for as long as necessary. "Only when we achieve total silence can we talk about calm," the minister said. "We will not listen to moral sermons against our duty to protect the citizens of Israel."
Meanwhile, Hamas and Islamic Jihad factions have confirmed firing more than 600 shells at Israel in the past 24 hours, 130 of which were fired at Tel Aviv overnight on Tuesday as part of 'Operation Jerusalem Sword', the largest in the history of the conflict, according to the Islamic militia. Israeli authorities had to close Ben Gurion airport and divert flights to Cyprus while the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted 98% of the rockets.
The air offensive reportedly killed at least one person in Tel Aviv, bringing the number of Israeli civilians killed to six, and wounded eight others. The Israeli casualties so far include two women from the southern town of Ashkelon, a man and his 16-year-old daughter from Lod, and a woman from Rishon LeZion, also south of Tel Aviv.
The Ezzeldin Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, threatened to attack Jerusalem if Israeli security forces did not withdraw from the Al-Aqsa Mosque - the third holiest site for Islam - and other areas of East Jerusalem. The organisation also demanded the release of all those arrested in the recent protests in the Shaykh Jarrah neighbourhood, where a mob of Jewish settlers tried to evict Palestinian families, which ultimately led to the outbreak of clashes.
The Islamic Resistance Movement issued a call to action to Palestinians in Israeli territory to "strike the enemy wherever possible". The call had an effect and led to multiple clashes in various parts of the country. The most serious was in Lod, a city just 15 kilometres from Tel Aviv, where the government has had to declare a state of emergency after a series of clashes.
"Civil war has broken out in Lod," declared Mayor Yair Revivo yesterday. The city is in chaos after a day of head-on clashes between Arabs and Jews in the streets. The mayor has publicly accused "hundreds of Arab thugs" of throwing "petrol bombs at Jewish homes". Revivo himself has even compared the violence and damage in the city to the Nazi pogroms of Kristallnacht. Images have shown synagogues set on fire, but also rallies and stone-throwing by Jewish right-wing extremist groups at vehicles driven by Arabs.
Israeli army spokesman Hidai Zilberman maintains that "Hamas's endurance is running out, but it is an organisation with endurance. The conflict] will not end in 24 hours". The Israeli government, in place after the prolonged political blockade, approved a bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip on Monday, ruling out for the time being the possibility of a ground incursion, which would be definitive for the outbreak of a military conflict.
Netanyahu has dismissed proposals by the United Nations and Egypt for a ceasefire with Hamas, and has called an emergency meeting with Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and others to address and de-escalate the unrest in Lod and begin de-escalation in the rest of the country. The conflict, which began in Jerusalem with the first outbreaks of violence at the Al-Aqsa mosque, has now spread to the whole of Israel.