Israel’s air offensive on the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza continued with fresh strikes on Monday, May 17. At least 42 people were killed on Sunday taking the total Palestinian death toll to 192, including 58 children. At least 1,200 more people have been injured.
According to Al-Jazeera, the Israeli air force carried out at least 55 air raids inside Gaza within the first few hours of Monday. This was the heaviest since the strikes began on May 10, following Hamas’ retaliatory rocket launches inside Israel after Israeli troops stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and injured hundreds of Palestinian worshipers.
Israel’s latest air bombardment of Gaza was “heavier, on a wider area and lasting longer” than the raids 24 hours earlier that killed at least 42 Palestinians.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 17, 2021
The Israeli air offensive on civilian residential areas in Gaza has led to massive destruction of property and infrastructure and displaced a large number of people who have been forced to live in open areas. Israeli air strikes have also targeted buildings housing media organizations and other civilian offices inside the Gaza strip. On Saturday, it bombed a multi-storey building inside Gaza housing international media organizations such as Al-Jazeera and Associated Press.
It is 1:30am now. I can't go to sleep , after relative quiet.There are warplanes shelling the entire Gaza Strip, especially Gaza City. Tens of dead bodies arrived to the hospitals, families are fleeing homes. This was described as " a rehearsal for doomsday, madness, earthquak. pic.twitter.com/YTe98tRoLY
— Omar Shaban (@omarthink) May 15, 2021
Israeli bombardment has also destroyed power lines leading to electricity cuts and blackouts in many areas of Gaza. Several families have reportedly been buried under the debris of the bombed houses. Palestinian civil defense volunteers have been digging people out of these debris.
Israel’s caretaker prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is struggling to save his post, said on Sunday that the strikes in Gaza will continue in full force, adding that “we are extracting a very heavy price from Hamas,” which controls the Gaza strip.
Meanwhile, Hamas said that it fired fresh rockets on the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Beersheba on Sunday. According to Israeli official reports, at least 10 people have died in the rocket attacks carried out by Hamas since May 10.
The Gaza strip is a densely populated region with over 2 million residents. A large number of them are Palestinian refugees who were forced to move out of their homes in present day Israel in 1947-48. The movement of Gazan residents is restricted due to a complete air, sea and land blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. Israel often carries out air strikes in the region. In 2014, Israel carried out air raids for over a month in which more than 2,000 people, mostly civilians, died and over 10,000 people were wounded.
Several countries have asked for an immediate cessation of hostilities. On Sunday, the UN Security Council met for the second time to discuss the situation but member countries once again failed to come to a consensus on issuing a formal statement.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in different parts of the world denouncing Israeli aggression and war crimes inside the Gaza strip and other Palestinian occupied territories.