Israel Pounds Gaza Overnight As Death Toll Soars, Says Anti-Hamas Operation “In Early Stages”

During overnight Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, at least 24 Palestinians including nine children have been killed, Gaza health officials say, while Israel’s military says 15 among the dead are militants. Israel’s air force unleashed strikes on some 130 sites throughout Gaza Strip in an operation that hasn’t let up into Tuesday.

And the Jerusalem Post records that over 300 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel since sundown on Monday, injuring at least 31 Israeli civilians, and including some direct hits on residential areas which included an apartment building. Israel has opened up bomb shelters across the south and major cities. Later into the day Tuesday (local time), AFP is reporting that Gaza rocket fire has killed two women in south Israel.

The rocket fire out of the Gaza Strip began after Hamas leaders issued a demand for Israeli police to vacate the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, and after a night of rioting and fierce clashes at security checkpoints, which included thousands of far-right Israel settler youth swarming the walled old city in a controversial Jerusalem Day parade. Monday’s events in Jerusalem left some 300 Palestinians wounded, and many arrested.

The Israeli airstrikes have now entered their second day, and look to continue. 

Israeli apartment building hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon on May 11, 2021. Times of Israel/Flash90

“On Tuesday, at about noon, Palestinians said that IDF struck an apartment in an 8-story building in the Rimal neighborhood in Gaza, killing two senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders and fatally wounding the brother of Baha abu Al-Ata who was killed in a targeted IDF operation 2019,” The Jerusalem Post notes.

Things only look to escalate from here, given Tel Aviv has announced the widening of the military campaign.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has approved the mobilization of 5,000 reserve soldiers to reinforce the Gaza border – and in the past such a deployment has come prior to a ground campaign – however which Israeli leaders often try to avoid given the extreme risk their troops and high death toll.

Additional IDF battalions have also been sent to the West Bank on fears of a wider Palestinian uprising akin to the prior historic intifadas.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who happens to be battling for his political future after last month he failed to cobble together a governing coalition – stated that fighting will “continue for some time”.

Local media videos are showing that many rockets from Gaza are making it past Israel’s Iron Dome anti-air defenses…

And an Israeli spokesman also affirmed that Israeli strikes are merely “in the early stages”.

Meanwhile at the State Department on Monday…