- Israeli airstrikes have levelled multiple residential buildings in Gaza, videos show.
- Israel said that Hamas used the buildings.
- Critics have questioned whether targeting large buildings violates international law.
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The Israeli military levelled multiple apartment buildings in Gaza with airstrikes this week amid escalating violence that’s killed dozens of Palestinians, marking the worst fighting in the region since the 50-day war in 2014.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday said hundreds of strikes had already been carried out and that “buildings will continue to crumble.” Gantz on Wednesday signalled the air campaign was poised to escalate.
“The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce,” Gantz said.
Videos shared on social media showed the buildings collapsing as a result of the Israeli strikes.
This week’s actions have renewed criticism of Israel over the targeting of large buildings, raising questions about proportionality and respect for human rights.
Me: “You leveled a [Gaza] apartment building… you think that’s in line with humanitarian law?”Israeli spokesperson: “Hamas is using the Palestinians as human shields…”Me: “Is your position that apartment buildings are fair game?”Watch the clip:pic.twitter.com/nnGvcGGS8U
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) May 12, 2021
At least 56 Palestinians, including 14 children, have been killed since the airstrikes began Monday. Rockets fired at Israel from Gaza have killed at least six people, including a soldier and child.
A senior Hamas commander was among those killed in the strikes thus far.
“This is just the beginning,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the strike that killed the Hamas commander. “We’ll hit them like they’ve never dreamed possible,” he added.
Meanwhile, the UN on Wednesday issued a warning that the ongoing conflict has the potential to escalate into a “full-scale war.”
As the Israeli military pummelled Gaza with airstrikes, over 1,000 rockets were fired by militants at Israel, though officials said 85% to 90% were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system, per NBC News.
The latest rash of violence in the region is linked to both historic and current factors. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and general treatment of Palestinians, including the economically devastating blockade on Gaza, remains at the centre of the tensions. Top human rights groups have increasingly condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestine as a form of apartheid.
The planned evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in east Jerusalem has been the more recent catalyst for the violence, among other incidents such as an Israeli police raid on an important Muslim holy site that injured hundreds on Monday.