A view of the damaged 9-storey Al Jawhar Tower after being hit on May 12, 2021 by Israeli warplanes in the Gaza Strip, in the city of Gaza in Gaza.
Ali Jadallah Anadolu Agency Getty Images
The United Nations has called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, warning that devastating violence is one step closer to escaping control.
The worst outbreak of violence between Israel and Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza war has sparked a deepening sense of international concern, and the crisis is reportedly not over.
“Stop the fire now. We are escalating towards a full-scale war,” Tor Wennesland, the United Nations envoy for the Middle East, said via Twitter late Tuesday.
“Leaders of all sides must take responsibility for the de-escalation. The costs of the war in Gaza are devastating and are being paid by ordinary people. The UN is working (with) all parties to restore calm. Stop the violence now.”
The Palestinian extremist group Hamas, which rules in Gaza, fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Israel retaliated with deadly airstrikes on Gaza. Approximately 2 million Palestinians have lived in the enclave under a strict Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas came to power in 2007.
Gaza’s health ministry said on Wednesday that the death toll from Israeli airstrikes had risen to 43 Palestinians, including 13 children. Israeli airstrikes also toppled two blocks of towers on Tuesday.
United Nations cited reports on Tuesday that more than 900 Palestinians in East Jerusalem were injured between May 7 and May 10, and more than 200 in the West Bank, “mostly by Israeli security forces,” some of whom were also injured.
Palestinian militants have fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israeli cities in the past 36 hours, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Five people were killed by rocket fire, Israel said, and more than 200 were wounded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Hamas had fired a rocket into the Jerusalem area for the first time since 2014.
Hamas said on Tuesday that it had launched “a massive rocket strike on Tel Aviv and its suburbs with 130 rockets, in response to enemy firing on residential towers,” according to Reuters.
Israeli defense forces said people in Tel Aviv, the country’s second most populous city, were urgently bombed early Wednesday. The rocket fire also stopped all flights to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
A huge column of smoke seen from the city of Gaza springs from an oil plant in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on May 11, 2021, after the Palestinian Hamas movement fired rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.
Mohmmed Abed | AFP | Getty Images
A dramatic escalation of tensions followed protests over the possible eviction of Palestinian families from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem by Israel’s Supreme Court and access to one of the holiest sites in the city. The court is scheduled to hold a hearing on Monday about the deeply contested eviction case initiated by right-wing Israelis but delayed publication due to rising tensions coinciding with the celebration of the anniversary of Israel’s capture of Jerusalem in the 1967 war and the Muslim commemoration of Ramadan.
The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, sounded the alarm on Monday that over eight Sheikh Jarrah families, approximately 75 people, were at risk of forced eviction.
Violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians were also reported on Friday, as Muslims were blocked from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Office of Rights, said the treatment of those who protested, and even those who did not protest last week, was “extremely worrying”.
“People who simply prayed or people who had iftar, who were exposed to violence or completely unprovoked responses from the security forces,” Colville he said, referring to the evening meal that is interrupted daily during the month of Ramadan.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter on Wednesday that he had discussed escalating violence with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
“Israelis and Palestinians must be able to live in security and safety, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy,” Blinken said.
– CNBCs Marty Steinberg contributed to this report.