Israel-Hamas clash escalates, killing at least 50 people

Missile attacks between the IDF and the Islamic militia give way to riots in several parts of Israel between Arabs and Jews
Rockets are fired from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, in response to an Israeli air strike on a 12-storey building in the city, towards the coastal city of Tel Aviv, 11 May 2021

AFP/ANAS BABA  -   Rockets are fired from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, in response to an Israeli air strike on a 12-storey building in the city, towards the coastal city of Tel Aviv, 11 May 2021

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.

Lanzamiento de cohetes hacia Israel desde la ciudad de Gaza, controlada por el movimiento palestino Hamás, el 11 de mayo de 2021
AFP/MAHMUD HAMS - Rockets are fired into Israel from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on 11 May 2021.

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."

Ataque aéreo israelí sobre el complejo Hanadi en la ciudad de Gaza
AFP/MAHMUD HAMS - Israeli airstrike on Hanadi compound in Gaza City

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.

El 12 de mayo de 2021 se produce un incendio en la refinería de Ashkelon, alcanzada por cohetes de Hamás el día anterior en la ciudad del sur de Israel, cerca de la Franja de Gaza
AFP/JACK GUEZ - A fire breaks out at the Ashkelon refinery, hit by Hamas rockets the previous day in the southern Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, on 12 May 2021.
Lod, the staging of the conflict

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. 

Un agente de seguridad israelí inspecciona los daños en una casa de Yehud, cerca de Tel Aviv, el 12 de mayo de 2021, tras el lanzamiento de cohetes hacia Israel desde la Franja de Gaza, controlada por el grupo militante palestino Hamás
AFP/GIL COHEN-MAGEN - An Israeli security officer inspects damage to a house in Yehud, near Tel Aviv, on May 12, 2021, after rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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.

Los bombardeos aéreos israelíes en la Franja de Gaza han afectado a las viviendas de miembros de alto rango del grupo militante Hamás, según informó el Ejército el miércoles, y la sede de la policía del territorio también fue objeto de ataques
AFP/MOHAMMED ABED - Israeli aerial bombardments in the Gaza Strip have hit the homes of senior members of the Hamas militant group, the army said Wednesday, with the territory's police headquarters also targeted.

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.