Israel continued its bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip through Tuesday and into Wednesday morning as the death toll continues to mount. So far, at least 69 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes, including 17 children.
Israel started bombing Gaza on Monday, which was framed as retaliation for rocket fire from Gaza that did minimal damage. After the first series of Israeli airstrikes targeted residential neighborhoods and killed 20 Palestinians, including 10 children, the rocket fire out of Gaza has stepped up. According to Haaretz, at least five Israelis have been killed.
The initial rocket attacks from Gaza were a response to violence against Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem who are demonstrating against planned evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood that will make way for Jewish settlers. Amid the chaos, Israeli police stormed al-Aqsa mosque and fired rubber bullets and tear gas, wounding hundreds of Palestinians.
Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday targeted a 13-story residential building in Gaza. The building’s residents were reportedly evacuated before the strike, and Hamas responded by firing rockets towards Tel Aviv.
Israel shows no signs of seeking a de-escalation of the situation. The Jerusalem Post quoted an unnamed Israeli official who said Israel is not ready for a ceasefire. “There will be a ceasefire when we’re ready for it,” the official said. A report from Israel’s Channel 12 News said Israel declined an offer from Egypt to negotiate a ceasefire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel will step up the “might and frequency” of the attacks on Gaza. “We are in the midst of a campaign,” he said. “Since yesterday, the IDF has carried out hundreds of attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. We have taken out commanders, attacked a large number of their high-quality targets. It was concluded that we will increase both the might and the frequency of the attacks.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also said Israel will continue bombing Gaza. “The purpose of the operation is to strike Hamas hard, to weaken it and to make it regret its decision,” he said. “Every bomb has an address. We will continue this in both the coming hours and the coming days. It’s hard to estimate how long it will take.”
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the military is launching a major offensive in Gaza using about 80 fighter jets, including F-35s. The IDF has named the offensive “Operation Guardian of the Walls.”
Over in the US, Biden administration officials have condemned rocket attacks coming out of Gaza, called for a de-escalation, but have failed to denounce or even mildly criticize the Israeli airstrikes that killed Palestinian children.