Israel Clashes Escalate as Netanyahu Sees Extended Conflict

A Palestinian boy watches smoke billowing from targets during Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gaza region of Khan Yunis, controlled by the Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. Photographer: Mahmoud Khatab/AFP/Getty Images

(Bloomberg) -- Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip bombarded southern Israel with dozens of rockets overnight, and Israeli aircraft pounded their facilities in lethal raids, after a showdown over Jerusalem erupted into one of the most intense confrontations between the sides in years.

By Amy Teibel
May 11, 2021, 8:20 AM – Updated on May 11, 2021, 9:27 AM
Word Count: 417

More than 200 rockets were fired into Israel, and several people were wounded in attacks that included direct hits on buildings, the Israeli military said Tuesday. Israel struck 130 targets of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups, including two tunnels, a Hamas military intelligence facility, and rocket production and storage sites. Fifteen militants died in the raids, it said.

The Palestinians said 24 people were killed, including nine children, in the coastal strip. Witnesses, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said a rocket fell short and landed on a house in Gaza, killing nine people, including three children.

Gaza Militants’ Rocket Fire Spurs Israeli Air Raids, Killing 20

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Gaza militants on Monday crossed a “red line” with rocket fire at the Jerusalem area, and predicted that the current round of violence could last for “some time.”

Political Gridlock

The violence is flaring at a time when Netanyahu’s rivals are trying to piece together a government after the fourth election in two years, and it has already impeded those efforts. One of the parties to the coalition talks, the United Arab List, has suspended participation due to the deteriorating security situation.

The escalation has also sparked concern in the U.S., Europe and at the United Nations. “All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions, take practical steps to calm things down,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Jerusalem has been seething with confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. After giving Israeli security forces a deadline to vacate the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and a traditionally Arab neighborhood where Israel plans to evict longtime Palestinian residents, Gaza militants fired dozens of rockets at the Jerusalem area and southern Israel.

Tensions were especially high on Monday because it marked Israel’s celebration of its control over the contested holy city, whose fate lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel captured Jerusalem’s eastern sector, with shrines holy to Muslims, Arabs and Christians, from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it. Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their longed-for state, and they and most of the international community consider it to be occupied territory.

(Updates with witness account of militant rocket falling on Gaza house in third paragraph)

–With assistance from Fadwa Hodali.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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