middle east eye

Live: Gaza media building flattened, Palestinian killed in West Bank
Middle East Eye, May 16 2021

The death toll from Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip has risen to 174, according to the enclave’s health ministry. 47 children and 29 women were among those killed, while there were around 1200 injuries. The ministry said overnight 26 people were killed including 8 children and 10 women. The new figures come after Israel’s army said it had bombed the home of the political leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar. The UNSC is set to meet to discuss the fighting as outrage continues to grow across the globe. The health authorities in Gaza said that five Palestinians were killed and 40 others wounded in the recent wave of attacks by Israel, according to local media outlets. Israel bombed the home of Hamas’s chief in Gaza early on Sunday, according to reports by Reuters and Haaretz, while Israeli air strikes continued to pummel the besieged strip as hostilities stretched into a seventh day with no sign of abating. At least two Palestinians were killed and 25 injured in heavy Israeli bombing of Gaza on Saturday night, health authorities in the besieged territory said. Many villages in the West Bank declared a state of mourning on Saturday, following the killing of at least 11 Palestinian by Israeli forces in the occupied territory a day earlier. In mosques across various Palestinian cities, loudspeakers sounded sirens for 73 seconds to mark the number of years since the Nakba, or the Catastrophe, the mass displacement of Palestinians leading to the establishment of Israel in 1984. Large crowds of Palestinians also held funerals for the Palestinians who were killed on Friday in the West Bank in an intense crackdown from Israeli forces. Later on Saturday, the Israeli military fatally shot a Palestinian near al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron, the Palestinian health ministry said. Mustafa Barghouti, the General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, told MEE that Israel’s use of force and evictions in the region is part of an “ethnic cleansing” effort. Barghouti said:

What we’re witnessing today is an Israeli attempt to repeat the Nakba, but what surprises Israel is the will of the Palestinian resistance and its ability to confront both by armed resistance in the Gaza Strip and popular resistance in the West Bank.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza noted that the death toll is likely to increase amid the bombing of many buildings in central Gaza. The two dead had arrived at al-Shifa hospital. The health ministry said:

The injured were mostly women and children. Five children were recovered alive from under the rubble of a building. Rescue teams are still looking through the rubble.

No injuries were reported from the strike on Yahya Sinwar’s home. Earlier, at least two Palestinians were killed and 25 injured in the heavy Israeli bombing of Gaza, health authorities said. Israel engaged in heavy bombing of Gaza on Saturday night and early Sunday, as Netanyahu said earlier on Saturday that the operation will continue “as long as necessary.” Israel intensified its bombardment of Gaza on Saturday night, targeting towns across the besieged Palestinian territory with heavy air raids. Al Jazeera reported that at least three Palestinians were killed and dozens injured, including women and children, in the bombing. Casualties continued to arrive at Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital throughout the night. Palestinian groups continued to fire rockets towards Israel, including the Tel Aviv area. Footage shared on social media showed Israel’s missile defences intercepting dozens of rockets over Tel Aviv. Netanyahu has shared a video showing the bombing of a building in Gaza known to house international news outlets, lauding the air raid as a successful attack on “terrorist organisations.” He wrote in the caption that accompanied the tweet:

I say to the leaders of terrorism: you cannot hide. Not above ground and not below ground. No one is immune. We are collapsing the terrorist towers. These are towers that serve as headquarters and offices for terrorist organisations. This operation will continue as long as it takes until we achieve our goals and bring peace and security to all Israeli citizens.

Journalists said they were given only a one-hour notice by the Israeli army to evacuate the al-Jalaa tower in Gaza City, before it was destroyed in an air strike. The Israeli military fatally shot a Palestinian near al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said. Several Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since Friday amid ongoing protests. Palestinian news agency WAFA identified the victim as Wajdy Walid Jaarfa, saying that his vehicle had come under heavy Israeli fire from a nearby military tower. According to WAFA, IOF blocked medics from reaching Jaarfa after he was hit, and he subsequently died on the scene. More than 360 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank on Saturday, including 63 by live ammunition, as Israel cracked down on protesters, Arab48 news website reported, citing health authorities.

Netanyahu said that Israel’s war on Gaza will “take time” and continue “as long as necessary,” Israeli media outlets reported. During a press conference on Saturday, Netanyahu delivered remarks in Hebrew and English, justifying Israel’s attacks on civilian infrastructure in Gaza. He referred to Saturday’s bombing of a building in Gaza known for housing international media organisations, saying:

Israel is doing everything possible (to avoid killing civilians). We demonstrated this yet again today when we warned civilians to vacate the building used by the Hamas terror intelligence. They vacated the premises before the target was destroyed. And that’s why you don’t hear of casualties from these collapsing terror towers.

Israel has not provided any evidence to back its claim that the building was being used by Hamas. Israeli bombs have killed at least 139 Palestinians, including dozens of children and in some instances entire families. On Saturday, Netanyahu also thanked Biden for his “clear and unequivocal support.”

In his first conversation with PA President Mahmoud Abbas since taking office, Biden on Saturday expressed what he called Washington’s commitment to strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership and asked for Hamas to stop the firing rockets towards Israel. A White House statement said:

President Biden updated President Abbas on US diplomatic engagement on the ongoing conflict and stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel. They expressed their shared concern that innocent civilians, including children, have tragically lost their lives amidst the ongoing violence.

The call for Hamas to end rocket attacks comes amid refusal from the US administration to explicitly call for an immediate ceasefire from both sides. Biden has also failed to criticise Israel’s heaving bombardment of Gaza, including the targeting of building housing media offices on Saturday. Biden highlighted the recent US decision to resume economic and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, voicing support for steps to “enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom and economy opportunity that they deserve.” Abbas spox Nabil Abu Rudeina confirmed the conversation had taken place, telling AFP that it was “important” without elaborating on the details of the exchange. The White House issued another statement of uncritical support for Israel on Saturday after a call between Biden and Netanyahu. the White House said in a statement describing the call:

The president reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel.

It was the second time Biden had spoken to Netanyahu since the crisis began. The call came hours after Israel bombed a building housing the offices of several media outlets in Gaza, including the AP and Middle East Eye. Biden, who had vowed to pursue a foreign policy centring human rights, failed to condemn the attack. Instead, he merely expressed “concern” for the safety of journalists. The administration has been using the word “concern” when it comes to Israel’s action in an apparent effort to avoid explicitly criticising the Israeli government. the statement said:

The President noted that this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children. He raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection.

Thousands of Palestinians have come out in the city of Sakhnin this afternoon, in order to mark the anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, the expulsion of more 800k Palestinians from their homes to make way for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Demonstrators gathered in front of the al-Nour Mosque in central Sakhnin, and marched through the city. In Jaffa, hundreds of people also protested against the wave of attacks from settlers in recent days, where groups of Israeli nationalists marched through the city and caused damage to Arab-owned businesses. Protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted songs about Palestinian resistance, condemning Israeli aggression.

Tanslation – Sakhnin: A large march against against the aggression of the occupation [Israeli forces] and settlers, and to mark the anniversary of Nakba.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been left in a state of shock and devastation after Israeli air strikes claimed the lives of 11 people, including eight children, in the early hours of Saturday. 10-year-old Nadine Abd’el-Taif is one of the many Palestinians who lost their homes to the overnight Israeli raid. Breaking down, she questions why her, her family, and others in Gaza are being targeted.

On Saturday afternoon, IOF entered the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, assaulted residents and forcibly broke up groups of protesters. Police forces were seen beating women with batons and storming property in an attempt to get people to leave their homes.

Translation: Occupation forces break into the home of Al-Kurd family in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in Jerusalem.

Residents of Sheikh Jarrah have been protesting for over a week against an Israeli court’s decision to imminently evacuate a number of families. According to Palestinian news agency WAFA, police forces attacked demonstraters who gathered to show support for the families facing forced expulsion. The neighbourhood has been a flashpoint of violence in recent days, where Israeli forces came in on horseback, heavily armed, to disperse people.

Israel on Saturday launched air strikes on the Al-Jalaa Tower in Gaza, a 12-storey residential building also used by Middle East Eye, Al Jazeera, the AP and other international and local media. The IOF had given the media outlets one hour ultimatum to evacuate the building in the besieged Gaza Strip ahead of a possible air strike, MEE correspondent said. Al Jazeera has condemned an Israeli air strike that destroyed a building housing their offices in Gaza, promising to “pursue every available route to hold the Israeli government responsible for its actions.” In a statement released on the Al Jazeera English website, the Qatar-owned media company said the attack was an attempt to silence journalism. Mostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network, said the bombing of al-Jalaa building was a “heinous crime.” He said:

We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and targeting of journalists and we demand an immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate targeting of journalists and the media institutions. The destruction of Al Jazeera offices and that of other media organizations in al-Jalaa tower in Gaza is a blatant violation of human rights and is internationally considered a war crime. We call on all media and human rights institutions in denouncing this heinous crime, and to stand with Al Jazeera and other media organisations targeted by the Israeli army, despite knowing their use of the building as their headquarters for many years.

Al Jazeera correspondent said the offices have been used by the channel for the past 15 years, and that the staff has not been able to empty the offices of important archives and equipment. Al Jazeera aired a phone call between the building’s owner and an Israeli intelligence officer, asking to be given more time to evacuate equipment from the offices, but the officer declined the request.

Several journalists are posting live tweets expressing outrage at the Israeli bombardment and the short notice.

Middle East Eye’s photojournalist Muhammed Hajjar has also been forced to evacuate the building.

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