Israel pounds Gaza as deadly conflict intensifies

A Palestinian man walks past a tower building which was destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli Palestinian violence in Gaza City May 12. — Reuters

48 killed in Gaza as Israel air strikes intensify

Conricus said that of the Palestinian death toll, about 50 were believed to be members of the Islamist military and political group Hamas, which controls Gaza and which Israel, the US, the European Union and others call a terrorist organization. Hamas claimed responsibility for launching rockets.

He defended Israel's response, despite accusations from Palestinians, peace activists and many American Democratic politicians that Israel's military response has been disproportionate to that of Gaza. "The mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations are stepping up their contacts with all sides in a bid to restore calm, but a deal hasn't yet been reached".

At least seven Palestinian civilians, including five children, were killed and others wounded when Israeli warplanes bombed and destroyed a residential house in western Gaza City.

The Israeli military said more than 2,000 rockets had been fired from Gaza into Israel since the start of the conflict, around half of them intercepted by missile defense systems and 350 fell into the Gaza Strip.

There was some confusion as to whether Israel had authorized a ground invasion of the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave but it turns out that the ground support was from outside of Gaza's border.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday expressed his support for Israel's right to defend itself while saying he hoped the fighting would end "sooner than later".

Hamas has showed no signs of backing down.

Two of the towers also housed global and local media outlets, including some with sympathies to Hamas and the Lebanese Islamist political party and militant group Hezbollah, but others with no affiliation to political or militant groups. It fired its most powerful rocket, the Ayyash, almost 200 kilometers (120 miles) into southern Israel on Thursday. Hamas has also launched two drones that Israel said it quickly shot down.

The current eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem.

The site is revered by both Muslims, who call it the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), and Jews, for whom it is known as the Temple Mount.

The violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem and other mixed cities across Israel has meanwhile added a new layer of volatility to the conflict not seen in more than two decades.

The Yediot Ahronoth newspaper reported that police arrested at least 30 people in Kafr Kanna, in the Galilee area in northern Israel. He said police had clashed overnight with individuals in Lod and Tel Aviv who hurled rocks and firebombs at them. Now his political rivals have three weeks to try to do so. His opponents include a broad range of parties that have little in common.

The Secretary-General appeals to all parties to immediately cease the fighting in Gaza and Israel.

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