Gaza death toll nears 200 amid surge of Israeli raids

Israeli air raids on Gaza City flatten three buildings and kill at least 42 people on Sunday.

Israel continued its bombardment of Gaza early on Monday [Mahmud Hams/AFP]

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that an end to seven days of hostilities with Gaza fighters was not imminent, despite diplomatic moves to restore calm.

Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” from Gaza’s Hamas rulers and its offensive on the Palestinian enclave would “take time”, he said in a televised address on Sunday – the deadliest day of Israeli air raids since the latest escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Earlier, the Israeli military launched intense raids on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 42 Palestinians, wounding dozens more, and flattening at least three residential buildings.

The home of Gaza’s Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, was also targeted, according to the group’s media.

At least 192 people, including 58 children and 34 women, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the latest violence began a week ago.

Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children.

The United Nations Security Council met on Sunday to discuss the violence but failed to agree on even a joint statement of concern.

Here are Sunday’s developments as they happened:

At least 55 Israeli air raids carried out

Israeli fighter jets carried out at least 55 air raids on Gaza early on Monday, Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout reported.

Al-Kahlout said the targets included several military and security bases in the Palestinian territory, as well as some empty land east of Gaza City.

A four-storey building was also bombed in the centre of Gaza City, but early reports indicate the building was evacuated before the attack.

“The fire is intensifying on military bases, security bases, empty and evacuated training camps that belong to Palestinian fighting groups,” he said.

It was not immediately clear if any casualties had been reported.

A ball of fire and a plume of smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave, early on May 17, 2021 [Mahmud Hams/AFP]

More Israeli air attacks on Gaza as escalation enters second week

The Israeli military launched new air raids on Gaza in the early hours of Monday local time.

Dozens of attacks were carried out, the Reuters news agency’s Gaza correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi said on Twitter.

The Israeli military confirmed on Twitter that it had launched attacks.

Sunday was the deadliest day in Israel’s military offensive so far, with at least 42 Palestinians killed and dozens more wounded.

Palestinian-led raids called for May 18

Fayrouz Sharqawi, director of Grassroots Al-Quds, called on people around the world to join a Palestinian-led strike day on Tuesday.

US top diplomat speaks to Qatari, Egyptian and Saudi foreign ministers

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday spoke by phone to the foreign ministers of Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and France about the continuing violence in Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Blinken and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani “discussed efforts to restore calm in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza in light of the tragic loss of civilian life”, the State Department said in a statement.

Palestinian protests in Israel showcase ‘unprecedented’ unity

During the past week, Israeli incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and raids on the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood Sheikh Jarrah continued, while a brutal Israeli military offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip has left many Palestinians dead.

But an extraordinary phenomenon has also taken root inside Israel, where thousands of Palestinian citizens in towns, villages and so-called “mixed” cities have taken to the streets to assert their identity while living in a self-defined Jewish state.

Read more here.

This file photo shows a Palestinian flag flying over the annual Land Day rally in the Arab city of Arraba, on March 30 [File: Mahmoud Illean/AFP]

Three Palestinian children injured every hour on average

Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Palestine country director, said three Palestinian children have been injured every hour on average since the Israeli military offensive on Gaza began last week.

“Many of these children will bear the scars – the long-term physical disability but also the incredible toll on their mental health – for the rest of their lives,” Lee told Al Jazeera.

Fifty-eight Palestinian children have been killed to date in the continuing air raids. “It’s absolutely horrific,” Lee said.

INTERACTIVE: Know their names – Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces

Israeli bombardment in Gaza has killed at least 58 children,

Here are some of their names.

Iran calls for international action on ‘apartheid’ Israel

Iranian officials have called on the United Nations and fellow Muslim nations to step in to stop “apartheid” Israel from attacking Palestine while a top military commander has pledged Iran will stand by Palestinians.

The High Council of Human Rights of Iran – an entity under the Supreme National Security Council currently headed by judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and comprised of several ministers – has written a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take action on “genocidal acts” and “racial cleansing” being committed by Israel.

Read more here.

AP’s top editor calls for investigation into bombing of Gaza office

The Associated Press’s top editor wants an independent investigation into Israel’s bombing of a building in Gaza that was home to her news organisation as well as broadcaster Al Jazeera.

AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said that her organisation had not yet seen any evidence from Israeli officials to justify the bombing, which levelled the 12-story al-Jalaa tower block on Saturday.

“We’ve heard the Israelis say they have evidence,” she told CNN’s Reliable Sources programme. “We don’t know what that evidence is,” Buzbee said.

‘Lot more going on behind the scenes’ – analyst

Mouin Rabbani, a Palestinian Middle East analyst, said there might be negotiations taking place behind the scenes.

“The problem here is, for all intents and purposes, there is a US monopoly on anything related to the Middle East diplomacy, and my suspicion is that there is quite a lot more going on behind the scenes,” Rabbani told Al Jazeera from the Hague, Netherlands.

“I do think they are playing by the usual playbook of trying to engage with Israel privately behind the scenes,” he said, adding however that it won’t be long before they realise “if they continue this playbook they are not going to achieve anything.”

INSIDE STORY: Who controls the media message on the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Israel is being condemned for carrying out air raids on a building that housed the offices of Al Jazeera, The Associated Press, and other international media in Gaza.

Staff and families living in apartments in al-Jalaa tower were given only an hour’s warning to leave.

US says ready to help Israel, Palestinians if they seek a ceasefire

The United States told the United Nations Security Council on Sunday it has made clear to Israel, the Palestinians and others that it is ready to offer support “should the parties seek a ceasefire” to end the worsening violence between Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza.

“The United States has been working tirelessly through diplomatic channels to try to bring an end to this conflict,” US Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the 15-member council.

Dozens of UNRWA schools to serve as shelters in Gaza

Commissioner-General of UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) Philippe Lazzarini in a tweet said more than 40 of the UN organisation’s schools are now open as shelters for thousands of people in Gaza who have been displaced by Israeli air raids.

Alternatives needed to UN Security council: BDS founder

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement founder Omar Barghouti said the world has to go beyond the UN Security Council and take alternative action in support of Palestinians in the UN General Assembly and the International Criminal Court, but also within states.

“This ongoing Nakba has got to stop, but it will not stop now at the Security Council because it’s hijacked,” Barghouti said. In the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, nearly 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes to make way for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

“We need to move at the other levels across the world including the UN General Assembly, including the ICC, the International Criminal Court, but also every state can do a lot, such as imposing a military embargo in Israel, cutting relations, cutting trade,” he said.

Gaza death toll jumps to 192: Health ministry

The Gaza health ministry has said ay least 192 people have now been killed in the coastal enclave during Israel’s seven-day offensive, including 58 children.

Qatar foreign minister, US’s Blinken discuss Gaza: Statement

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani received a call on Sunday from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in which they discussed developments in Gaza.

“During the call, they discussed the recent Israeli attacks on worshippers on Al Aqsa Mosque and the attack on the besieged Gaza Strip,” a ministry statement added.

Israeli air raids ongoing in Gaza: Correspondent

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Safwat al Kahlout reported from Gaza that Israeli attacks were continuing in Gaza.

“The bombardments are still ongoing … we could hear explosions a few minutes ago, the sky of Gaza is dominated by the Israeli bombs,” he said.

“We can say there is no positive indication of calmness in the last few hours,” he said.

A Palestinian father evacuates his wounded daughter from the rubble of a destroyed house after an Israeli air raid in Gaza City [Haitham Imad/EPA]

Israeli and Palestinian delegations attempting to ‘score points’ at UN: Analyst

Al Jazeera’s analyst Marwan Bishara said the Israeli and Palestinian delegations were trying to “score points”, rather than “make points” in a UN Security Council meeting on Sunday.

“Certainly, it sounded to me that the Israeli and the Palestinian spokesperson were speaking to their constituency and to their public opinion because clearly no one present at the Security Council meeting was affected by those speeches that were meant more to score points than to make points,” he added.

“I haven’t seen anything from the Chinese or the British to give me a sign that the Israeli and the Palestinian spokespeople were able to influence them at all. In as far as the rest … it is more of the same.”

US Senator Sanders calls devastation in Gaza ‘unconscionable’

American politician Bernie Sanders in a tweet said the destruction in Gaza was “unconscionable”, adding that the US must take a “hard look” at military aid the country provides to Israel.

“It is illegal for US aid to support human rights violations.”

Jordan’s king says diplomacy under way to halt Israel’s Gaza bombardment

Jordan’s King Abdullah said his kingdom was involved in intensive diplomacy to halt what he described as Israeli military escalation that has led to the worst flare-up of violence in years.

The monarch, whose ruling family has custodianship of Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem, did not elaborate but has in recent days warned that Israel’s military campaign was risking major instability in the region.

Four more bodies recovered: Gaza reporter

Gaza journalist Sami Abu Salem said four more bodies had been rescued from one of the two buildings destroyed in an Israeli air raid.

“I’m standing in front of two of the buildings flattened last night by Israeli air raids, one hour ago the rescue teams evacuated 4 dead bodies … a mother and her three children who were sleeping when the rockets hit the buildings,” he told Al Jazeera.

Palestinians perform funeral prayers for a member of the al-Kulak family, who was killed during an Israeli raid on Gaza City on May 16, 2021 in Gaza City, Gaza [Fatima Shbair/Getty Images]

Israel responsible for current situation: Jordan

Jordan’s foreign minister said Israel as an occupying force “shoulders the responsibility” for the current situation in the occupied territories and Gaza.

“Israel the occupying power shoulders the responsibility for the difficult situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and everything that is caused by the bloodshed and the destruction and the suffering,” Ayman Safadi said at United Nations.

“All of this must stop, hostilities must stop, the illegitimate practices of Israel must stop.”

Israeli PM says Gaza building housing media ‘legitimate target’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the attack on the Gaza tower that housed The Associated Press and Al Jazeera bureaus, alleging it also hosted a Palestinian “terrorist” intelligence office.

“An intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organisation [was] housed in that building that plots and organises the terror attacks against Israeli civilians,” Netanyahu told CBS News.

“So it is a perfectly legitimate target. I can tell you that we took every precaution to make sure that there were no civilian injuries, in fact, no deaths.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s reporter from Gaza who had been working from the now-destroyed building for more than 10 years, said he had “never seen anything [suspicious]”.

“I even asked my colleagues if they’ve seen anything suspicious and they all confirmed to me that they have never seen any military aspects or the fighters even coming in and out,” he added.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt told Al Jazeera: “I can tell you that we’ve been in that building for about 15 years for our bureau. We certainly had no sense that Hamas was there.”

Hamas ‘misjudged’ strength of Israeli response: Army chief

Hamas “misjudged” the strength of Israel’s response when the group first launched seven rockets from Gaza at Jerusalem almost a week ago, Israel’s army chief said.

“Hamas misjudged the strength of our response,” said Aviv Kochavi, the army’s chief of general staff, saying Gaza had since been enduring an aerial bombardment of unprecedented “intensity”.

AJ Witness: Skies Above Hebron – growing up Palestinian in occupied West Bank

In the old city of Hebron, brothers Amer, 16, and Anas, 12, play on a rooftop. Armed Israeli soldiers who guard the settlers next door, watch the brothers, accuse them and threaten to arrest them.

Nearby, Marwaan, 16, lives on the once-bustling Shuhada Street opposite a large Israeli settlement. Camera in hand, he documents the heated confrontations with Israeli settlers who are eager to move into their homes.

Watch here.

Several injured in East Jerusalem car-ramming attack: Police

A car-ramming attack wounded several people including four police officers in the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Sunday, police said, adding that the attacker was shot.

After the “vehicle-ramming attack” in the district, the assailant was “shot by officers”, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said without giving details on the attacker’s condition.

Read more here.

Palestinian protests in Jenin [Alaa Badarneh/EPA]

‘Israel is killing us’: Palestinian minister at UN

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said “there are no words to describe the horrors our people are enduring” as he urged international pressure at a UN Security Council session.

“Think on what it feels to see your roads crumbling down and to be able to protect them, think of what it means to sleep not knowing which one of you will wake up,” he added.

“Israel is killing Palestinians in Gaza one family at a time … Israel is persecuting our people, committing  war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Read more here.

Rescue teams still looking for survivors in El Wahda neighbourhood

Rescuers in Gaza are still hoping to pull survivors in Gaza City after overnight Israeli bombing left dozens dead.

“We are still here at the  Al-Shifa Hospital just a very short while ago five more bodies where brought out of the El Wahda neighbourhood, unfortunately, all of them dead,” journalist Youmna al-Sayed told Al Jazeera.

Al-Sayed said lack of resources for rescue crews was creating a “great challenge” to pull bodies from the rubble.

Rescue workers attend to a victim amid rubble at the site of Israeli air raids, in Gaza City May 16, 2021 [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Netanyahu says ‘will take time’ before Gaza fighting ends

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that an end to seven days of hostilities with Gaza fighters was not imminent, despite diplomatic moves to restore calm.

“Our campaign against the terrorist organisations is continuing with full force,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech.

“We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time.”

Read more here.

UN chief says Israel, Gaza fighting ‘utterly appalling’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UN Security Council on Sunday that hostilities in Israel and Gaza were “utterly appalling” and called for an immediate end to the fighting.

He said the United Nations is “actively engaging all sides toward an immediate ceasefire” and called on them “to allow mediation efforts to intensify and succeed”.

A Palestinian man reacts as he sits in front of the remains of his house, after it was destroyed by an Israeli air raid, in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on May 16, 2021 [Said Khatib/AFP]

Children are unable to cope – Gaza resident

Gaza resident and teacher Rajaa Abu Jasser says her five children are unable to cope with the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and are “terrified all the time”.

“They are just listening carefully if there will be a bombing anytime soon. They are afraid to close their eyes at night,” she told Al Jazeera, whose oldest child is 10 and the youngest, two twin boys, are two.

Jasser said she “struggled every night” to put her kids to bed, adding that “as a mother, I do not know how to deal with this.”

‘What’s the point of the UN?’: Activist

Rana Nazzal, a Palestinian-Canadian activist in the occupied West Bank, said she is not very hopeful about Sunday’s OIC and UN Security Council meetings.

“Well to be honest with you I don’t think many Palestinians even know about this meeting, and I’m certain that no families are around sitting in their TVs waiting to see what happens,” Nazzal said.

“All the crimes that have happened in Palestine over the last years have happened … under the noses of the international community and one has to ask what’s the point of the UN if it’s only condemning, and there is no action to follow up.”

Palestinian rescue a survivor from under the rubble of a destroyed residential building following deadly Israeli air attack in Gaza City, Sunday, May 16, 2021 [Khalil Hamra/AP]

Israel faces highest ever rate of rocket attacks: Army

Israel has faced the highest ever rate of rocket attacks on its territory from Gaza, the army said.

Since Monday, armed groups in Gaza have fired about 3,000 rockets towards Israel, surpassing the pace during an escalation in 2019 and during the 2006 war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, said Major General Ori Gordin.

Gordin, commander of Israel’s home front, presented a graphic to reporters with data of rockets fired towards Israel in past years and now.

Kashmir police arrest graffiti artist over Palestine mural

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir arrested at least 20 people, including an outspoken religious leader who prayed for Palestine and an artist who drew graffiti in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The family of 32-year-old Mudasir Gull, an artist based in the main city of Srinagar, accused the regional authority of censoring an artist’s freedom of expression.

Read more here.

Picture of the graffiti painted by the artist in Srinagar which has now been removed by the police [Picture provided by family]

‘Israel is committing war crimes’

Saleh Hijazi, deputy regional director at Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa, told Al Jazeera that Israel was trying to hide what it was doing in Gaza and to the people of Gaza, adding that Amnesty was prevented from entering the enclave since 2012.

“We now have an International Criminal Court investigation open on the situation in the Palestinian Territories, since 2014. We call on the ICC to look into this incident” he said, referring to the bombing of international media offices by Israeli forces.

“Even if there is a legitimate military target there, it is disproportionate to attack a building in such a manner,” Hijazi also said.

“Such a disproportionate attack amounts to war crime. In addition, this follows a pattern of collective punishment against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

He stressed that more than 51 residential buildings were reported to be destroyed since the beginning of the operation, including high-rise buildings.

Pope Francis calls for end to fighting in Israel and Gaza

Pope Francis called for an end to the conflict in Israel and Gaza, saying the deaths of so many innocent people in recent days, including children, was unacceptable.

“I appeal for calm, and for those responsible to end the clamour of weapons and to take the path of peace,” he said in a weekly address to faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.

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

Turkish FM: OIC meeting condemns Israel

Turkish foreign minister said an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference executive committee emphasised that Israel is solely responsible for the ongoing atrocity in Palestine.

“[We] will continue to resolutely lead all efforts at international level for protection of Palestinian brothers&sisters,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet.

‘Arab-Jewish violence on rise among Israeli citizens’

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said all non-Muslims were denied access to Al-Aqsa Mosque as there was some talk of right-wing Jewish activists trying to enter the compound to carry out some kind of activities.

“Tensions and worries about security remain high even during the daytime,” he said.

“Disturbing videos came out overnight. There was a video showing a group of Jewish people at a road junction looking for Palestinian-Israeli drivers. When a driver comes in, they started throwing stones. Police did not intervene in any strong fashion,” he also said.

“Another video showed a Jewish man walking at night in Jaffa on a security camera before two Palestinian Israeli push him in a doorway and beat him up,” our correspondent said.

“There are concerns of more organised levels of violence with armed settler group going to places such as Lod, an eastern suburb of Tel Aviv. There are also concerns of armed organised crime among the Israeli Palestinian sector,” Fawcett added.

German FM calls for end to violence

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for an end to violence in the Middle East and 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 between Israelis & Palestinians and on a two-state solution,” Maas tweeted, calling the situation “highly explosive”.

Saudi Arabia slams Israel’s ‘flagrant violations’ of Palestinian rights

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister condemned Israel’s “flagrant violations” of Palestinian rights and called on the international community to act urgently to put an end to military operations.

He called on the international community to carry out its responsibility towards ending this “dangerous escalation”, to act urgently to halt military operations and to revive peace negotiations based on a two-state solution.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud was speaking in televised remarks at the start of an emergency virtual meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Saudi minister condemned Israel for the recent violence [File: Reuters]

Al-Jalaa tower owner denies Israeli claims

The owner of a bombed high-rise building in Gaza City housing offices of international media outlets denied his building contained assets of Hamas intelligence agency after an air attack launched by Israel obliterated the 12-storey building.

Jawad Mehdi, the owner of the al-Jalaa tower, said no evidence for the claim has been provided by the Israeli authorities.

“Apart from the tenants, there are some offices of lawyers, engineers and some media agencies including Al Jazeera and AP. Nothing else,” said Mehdi.

Israel says it made arrests in Lod

The Israeli police said they have arrested six suspects involved in riots in the Israeli Arab city of Lod in the early hours of the morning.

They also reported that they had seized petrol bombs and ammunition, adding that “police operations and activities continued in cities and areas across the country to prevent and respond to incidents”.

EU to hold urgent talks on Israeli-Palestinian issue

European Union foreign ministers will hold urgent video talks on the escalating fighting between Israel and the Palestinians, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said.

“In view of the ongoing escalation between Israel and Palestine and the unacceptable number of civilian casualties, I am convening an extraordinary VTC of the EU Foreign Ministers on Tuesday. We will coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to end the current violence,” Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter Sunday.

‘Apartheid states are not democracies’

US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the administration of President Joe Biden for not standing up to Israel, which she called an “apartheid state”.

“Apartheid states aren’t democracies,” she wrote in a tweet.

Sharing a video of the Israeli attack on the AP and Al Jazeera offices, she said, “This is happening with the support of the United States.”

She added: “I don’t care how any spokesperson tries to spin this. The US vetoed the UN call for ceasefire. If the Biden admin can’t stand up to an ally, who can it stand up to? How can they credibly claim to stand for human rights?”

Read more here.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic in LA

Hundreds of protesters shut down traffic as they took to the streets of Los Angeles, calling for an end to Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The protesters waved flags and signs saying “Free Palestine” and shouted “long live Intifada”, or uprising. They marched from outside the federal building to the Israeli consulate in the western part of the city.

China calls for UNSC action, slams US

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on the UN Security Council to seek a de-escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers. He also blamed the US for the council’s lack of action so far.

“Regrettably, the council has so far failed to reach an agreement, with the United States standing on the opposite side of international justice,” the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Wang as saying.

Blinken talks to AP chief over Israeli attack

US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken spoke with Gary Pruitt, the president and CEO of The Associated Press, on the Israeli attack on the news agency’s office in Gaza, his spokesman Ned Price said.

“The Secretary offered his unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world and noted the indispensability of their reporting in conflict zones,” Price said in a statement.

He also expressed relief that The Associated Press team on the ground in Gaza remains safe.

IDF: Media tower was Hamas base

The Israeli military called the office of media organisations it bombed on Saturday “an important base of operations for Hamas’ military intelligence”.

“The base gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper IDF operations,” the Israeli military said in a tweet.

It added: “We warned civilians in the building about our strike out of concern for their safety & gave them enough time to safely evacuate. Hamas & Islamic Jihad used this time to take items out of the building. We were willing to pay that price to not harm any civilians.”

Leicester City duo shows solidarity with Palestinian people

Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana, football players with the UK’s Leicester City, waved a Palestine flag during their celebration for their team’s FA Cup final victory, showing solidarity with the Palestinian people under Israeli attacks.

Pro-Palestinian rallies organised in big New Zealand cities

Thousands of pro-Palestinian supporters marched through New Zealand’s largest cities to protest against Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of demonstrators protested in the capital Wellington, as well as in Auckland and Christchurch, holding signs, banners and Palestinian flags.

The marches coincided with Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the war for Israel’s independence in 1948.

Israeli prime minister says attacks on Gaza will continue

Israel’s prime minister said that attacks on the Gaza Strip would continue as long as they were necessary.

Netanyahu also claimed that the tower, which housed offices of various media groups, including Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, was being used by Palestinian groups, including Hamas, before being destroyed by the Israeli army. The prime minister claimed that Israel shows “special care” to avoid civilian deaths in attacks on Gaza.

“Israel’s operations on Gaza will continue as long as needed to reach its aims,” he said at a news conference where he thanked US President Joe Biden for his support.

Netanyahu claims that Israel shows ‘special care’ to avoid civilian deaths in attacks on Gaza [File: Reuters]

Canada calls for protecting journalists after Gaza attack

Canada stressed “the fundamental importance of protecting journalists” following the Israeli attack on a building housing international media in Gaza, and called for “immediate steps” to end the violence.

Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said Canada was following the situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza “with grave concern” and urged “all parties to take immediate steps to end the violence, deescalate tensions, protect all civilians, refugees, journalists and media workers.”

He reiterated on Twitter “the fundamental importance of protecting journalists,” stressing they “must be free to do their work,” adding, “Their safety and security must always be ensured.”

Second Palestinian killed in West Bank

Israeli forces killed a second Palestinian during protests in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Wafa news agency said, citing health officials.

More than 450 people were wounded, the agency reported, with 100 injured from the use of live ammunition.

Palestinian demonstrators gather near Tubas in the occupied West Bank to protest Israeli actions in Jerusalem and the Gaza escalation on May 15, 2021 [Raneen Sawafta/ Reuters]

Israeli raids damage road leading to Gaza’s main hospital

Israeli air raids created a crater that blocked one of the main roads leading to al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing residents and journalists.

The Palestinian Wafa news agency said the intensive shelling caused “massive destruction” in the Gaza Strip, including to civilian homes, and also resulted in a complete blackout in the northern Rimal neighbourhood.

Palestinian doctors rush to treat a wounded girl who arrived with her family at Al-Shifa Hospital after intensive bombardments in Gaza City, 16 May 2021 [Mohamed Abed/AFP]

Biden reaffirms ‘strong support’ for Israel

US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirmed his “strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza”, the White House said.

He also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and “conveyed a commitment to strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership,” the White House added in a tweet.

Rescue workers pull out five children from rubble in Gaza

Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting from Gaza, said rescue teams are racing to dig out survivors from beneath the rubble of residential buildings flattened in Israeli raids.

“The rescue teams have found five children alive,” he said. “They say they hear some people are still alive under the rubble and they’re still working to pull out more survivors.”

He said the Israeli bombardment had destroyed houses and roads in the El Wahda district.

US Muslim groups urge boycott of White House Eid dinner

American Muslims for Palestine, a US-based advocacy group, urged the Muslim community to boycott President Joe Biden’s Eid celebration on Sunday over his stance on Palestine.

The group also announced a counter event, called “Eid with Palestine”.

“Recent statements made by President Biden, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, and Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price, completely disregard the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the Israeli assault on Al-Aqsa on worshippers during Ramadan, and the ongoing siege of Gaza that has already claimed the lives of hundreds,” the advocacy group said.

“In a show of solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Palestine, the United States, and around the world, a coalition of Muslims nationwide is urging our Muslim community to boycott the White House event and join the ‘Eid with Palestine: A Protest of the White House Eid event.”

Earlier, the Council on American-Islamic Relations also said it would boycott the White House’s Eid celebration.

Pro-Palestinian supporters protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza [Rashid Umar Abbasi/REUTERS]

Israel targets home of Hamas chief in Gaza

Israel struck the home of a senior Hamas leader in a burst of air raids, the group’s TV station said.

Yehya al-Sinwar has headed the political and military wings of Hamas in Gaza since 2017.

Israel launches ‘most intensive air raids’ yet in Gaza

Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout, reporting live from Gaza, said Israeli jets carried out 150 air raids across the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Sunday, including at least 60 in Gaza City alone.

“The last couple of hours the Israeli army carried out the most intensive air raids all over the Gaza Strip over the past seven days of escalation,” al-Kahlout said, adding that several people were killed in the raid.

Emergency workers are digging through the rubble in the hopes of finding survivors, he said.

The Gaza health ministry meanwhile said many Palestinians were arriving at hospitals with injuries.

Israeli military fatally shoots Palestinian youth in West Bank

Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian youth north of Tulkarem in the West Bank just after midnight on Sunday, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported, citing the ministry of health.

At least nine people were wounded after soldiers opened live fire, and were taken to the hospital, WAFA said.

Huge crowds rally across US in support of Palestine

Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Washington, DC, said there was an “unusually large show of support” for the Palestinian cause in the United States on Saturday.

“There were demonstrations in New York, Chicago, Colorado, and in Washington, DC. These were what we thought were an unusually large pro-Palestinian crowd of several thousand people,” he said.

“They wanted the US government to exert more pressure on Israel, to end this conflict. There was a real sense of dissatisfaction that the Biden administration’s policies are really not significantly different than the policies of the Trump administration or any other US administration over the past several years.”

A pro-Palestinian demonstrator holds a placard with a photograph of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest against the continuing conflict in Israel and Palestinian territories during a rally at the Washington Monument in Washington, DC [Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

‘Heavy bombardment’ near Gaza UN office

Matthias Schmale, the Gaza director for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), reported “heavy bombardment” near the agency’s compound in the early hours of Sunday.

For the developments from Saturday, May 15, go here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies