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Deaths mount in Gaza as UN meeting begins

Deaths mount in Gaza as UN meeting begins

Deaths mount in Gaza as UN meeting begins

Forty-two people have died in the latest Israeli air strikes on Gaza,

as the conflict with Palestinian militants entered its seventh day.

Gaza health officials said 16 women and 10 children were among the dead.

Israel’s military said it had been targeting leaders and infrastructure linked

to Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza.

Hamas launched a new barrage of rockets towards southern

Israel on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a UN Security Council meeting has begun, with international

mediators hoping to broker a ceasefire.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the meeting by describing

the violence as “utterly appalling” and said the fighting must stop immediately.

Since it began on Monday at least 188 people have been killed in Gaza,

including 55 children and 33 women, with 1,230 injured, according to the

Hamas-controlled health ministry. Israel says dozens

of militants are among the dead.

Ten people, including two children, have been killed by militant attacks

on Israel, Israeli officials say.

The flare-up of violence over the last week came after weeks of increasing

Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem, which culminated in clashes at

a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas – the Palestinian militant

group that runs Gaza – began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw

from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.

How heavy were the latest bombardments?

Israel’s military said it had struck the homes of both Yahya Sinwar and his

brother Muhammad Sinwar, whom it described as head

of logistics and manpower for Hamas.

Both residences had, it said, “served as military infrastructure” for Hamas.

Local sources confirmed to media that the Hamas leader’s home in the

Gaza town of Khan Younis had been bombed. There were no immediate

reports about the fate of the two brothers.

Multiple air strikes rocked Gaza City during the night, with dozens of

people reported missing under the rubble of homes,

said the BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf in Gaza.

“I have never covered air strikes with such intensity, explosions are

everywhere in Gaza, there are difficulties in communicating with

officials to find out where the strikes are,” he said on Twitter.

“The building in which I live in [the] western part of the city shook like

an earthquake,” he said. “A hysterical state of chaos, children and women

in the building that houses more than 200 people screaming.” 

Shortly after noon, rockets were launched by militants in Gaza against Ashkelon,

Ashdod, Netivot and other parts of central and southern Israel, according

to Israeli media. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Israel said the militants had launched 3,000 rockets in the past week,

which it described as unprecedented.

Some 120 rockets had been launched overnight but there were no

reports of serious injuries.

The prospects for a ceasefire?

Blaming the militants for the conflict, Mr Netanyahu said strikes would

continue for “as long as necessary” and everything possible was

being done to limit civilian casualties.

On Saturday, the Israeli military blew up a tower block in Gaza City used by

international media after issuing warnings to evacuate it.

President Biden told Mr Netanyahu he continued to support Israel’s right to

defend itself. He expressed concern over deaths on both sides and

called for journalists to be protected.

Speaking to President Abbas, the US leader said he was committed to

“strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership”. He also said the

Hamas rocket fire into Israel had to stop.

President Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank, has little power

in Gaza but the US will not speak to Hamas, which it

regards as a terrorist organization.

Mr Biden told both leaders he remained committed to finding a

two-state solution to the conflict.

US envoy Hady Amr is having talks with top Israeli officials including

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday.

EU foreign ministers are to discuss the conflict in video talks on Tuesday.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Israel and

the Palestinians to resume talks.

“What is needed now is: 1. an end to the rocket attacks, 2. an end to the

violence and 3. a return to talks…

on a two-state solution,” he tweeted (in German).

Pope Francis urged the warring sides to “end the clamour of weapons

and to take the path of peace”.

“Many innocent people have died, amongst them there are also children,”

he said in a weekly address to the Catholic faithful gathered in

Saint Peter’s Square. “This is terrible. Unacceptable. Their death is a sign

that [people] don’t want to build a future but destroy it… I wonder

where hatred and revenge will lead?”

Pro-Palestinian protests were held across the world on Saturday, from

Europe to the Americas. In central Paris, police used tear gas and water

cannon to disperse an illegal demonstration while in London, nine police

officers were hurt during clashes with protesters outside the Israeli embassy.

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