WEST BANK ESCALATION RAMPS UP WITH NETANYAHU VOWING EVEN HEAVIER BOMBARDMENT

On May 17th, Hamas’ military wing said it had fired rockets at the Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva areas after the deadliest night of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since hostilities began a week ago.

In a statement early in the morning, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades announced that it targeted areas in the southern Israeli-occupied territories with rockets in response to the IDF’s continued bombardment.

Reuters reported that the aerial bombardment on May 16th involved more than 100 strikes.

According to the AP, explosions rocked the city from north to south for ten minutes, lasting longer and targeting a wider area than previous air raids.

International calls mounted for a ceasefire, as the UN Security Council tried to issue a joint statement with that aim, but it was again blocked by the US.

So far, at least 197 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, have been killed in Israeli air raids, and more than 1,200 people have been injured. The Sunday raids solely killed 42 Palestinians, including 10 children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Yusuf Abu al-Reesh, the secretary of the Gaza health ministry, denounced Israeli attacks targeting health and humanitarian workers, saying the attacks have had “devastating impacts on people and the environment.”

“Residential buildings have been destroyed, schools, places of worship, roads, media offices, government buildings and business and electronic lines,” Abu al-Reesh said.

The Israeli military claimed it tried to avoid civilian casualties, blaming Hamas for “intentionally locating its military infrastructure under civilian houses, thus exposing civilians to danger.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, in response, said that “Israel is trying to mislead the public opinion through these lies in an attempt to justify the crime and escape responsibility.”

On Israel’s side, there’s been 10 confirmed casualties and the IDF claims that the Iron Dome intercepted 90% of all projectiles launched at it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deadly bombing of the Gaza Strip would continue despite an international outcry and efforts to broker a ceasefire.

In a televised address, Netanyahu said the Israeli air raids were continuing at “full-force” and would “take time”, adding that his country “wants to levy a heavy price” from Hamas.

Netanyahu rejected a barrage of criticism of Israel’s bombing of a high-rise building housing foreign media offices, including Al Jazeera’s, in Gaza.

The prime minister claimed the building hosted an “intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organisation [Hamas]” which “plots and organises the terror attacks against Israeli civilians”.

He did not present any evidence of his claim but said it was “a perfectly legitimate target”, nonetheless. Asked if he had provided any evidence of Hamas presence in the building in a call with US President Joe Biden, Netanyahu said, “We pass it through our intelligence people.”

“We are targeting a terrorist organisation that is targeting our civilians and hiding behind them, using them as human shields,” he added.

Via https://southfront.org/west-bank-escalation-ramps-up-with-netanyahu-vowing-even-heavier-bombardment/