1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
PoliticsMiddle East

Israel pounds Gaza ahead of US talks

May 15, 2021

The US envoy for Israel-Palestinian affairs, Hady Amr, is set to meet officials from both sides — separately — hours after Israel's deadliest single strike on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

An Israeli missile strikes a building in Gaza
Israel carried out fresh airstrikes on Gaza, just as US enjoy Hady Amr arrived to try to deescalate the conflictImage: Ashraf Amra/APA Images via ZUMA Wire/dpa/picture alliance

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza City killed at least 10 people early Saturday, as the Jewish-majority state intensified its offensive in the region. All those killed were members of a single family — eight children and two women.

The attack, which prompted fresh rocket fire from Hamas militants, came hours after top US State Department official Hady Amr landed in Tel Aviv in an attempt to deescalate tensions.

He was set to meet Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Saturday, before heading to the occupied West Bank for talks with Palestinian officials.

Palestinian militants fired rockets at Tel Aviv from Gaza on Saturday afternoon, in what is the sixth wave of attacks since Tuesday night. Explosions were heard in the sky and also in the southern part of the city.

Karte Israel Gaza Strip West Bank EN

A 13-floor Gaza Strip tower block housing the offices of the US news agency The Associated Press and the Qatar-based Al Jazeera news outlet, along with residential apartments, was destroyed in an airstrike Saturday afternoon after being hit by Israeli missiles.

The building's owner had been warned in advance of an impending strike, a Reuters reporter said, and the building had been evacuated.

Israel flattens media building

Further violence was expected as Palestinians mark Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, when they commemorate the estimated 700,000 people who fled or were driven from their homes after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.

How the latest violence unfolded

Rocket fire from Gaza and Israel's bombardment of the blockaded Palestinian territory continued into early Saturday and included an Israeli airstrike on a three-story house in a refugee camp in Gaza City.

Eight children and two women from an extended family were killed.

Mohammed al-Hadidi told reporters his wife and five children had gone to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday with relatives.

She and three of the children, aged 6 to 14, were killed, while an 11-year-old is missing. Only his 5-month-old son Omar is known to have survived.

Speaking outside Shifa hospital in Gaza City, al-Hadidi, said he wanted "the unjust world to see these crimes."

Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets at southern Israel in response to the airstrike.

Israel's military said some 200 rockets were fired by Palestinian militants between Between 7 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday, over 100 of which were intercepted by air defenses.

At least 139 people have been killed in Gaza since hostilities erupted on Monday, including 34 children and 21 women, with 950 others wounded, Palestinian medics said. Nine people have died in Israel, and more than 560 people have been wounded. 

Violence spreads to West Bank

Palestinians clashed with security forces in the occupied West Bank on Friday, as Israel and Hamas in Gaza traded fire.

Palestinians say they are incensed by Israel's recent actions in Jerusalem and Gaza, and have taken to the streets across major West Bank cities such as Hebron and Nablus to express their anger.

At least 11 Palestinians have died in the West Bank due to clashes with security forces. 

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned what he called "brutal and programmed killings" and requested political support from the United States and United Nations. 

In addition, the Palestine Red Crescent reported 1,757 injuries in the West Bank and Jerusalem as of early Saturday. 

Israeli police said at least nine people were injured from "violent resistance" in the West Bank as authorities carried out an operation to arrest individuals accused of inciting violence.

Israeli Shin Bet security agents dealt with stones and gunfire in the city of Kafr Kanna, after authorities arrested Islamic Movement deputy leader Kamal Khatib in the area.

What will the US envoy's visit achieve?

US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel-Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr was due to meet Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Saturday before heading to the occupied West Bank for talks with Palestinian officials. 

He wants to encourage a "sustainable calm," State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said.

Washington has been criticized for not doing more to end the intensifying violence after it blocked a UN Security Council meeting on Friday. The meeting is scheduled to take place on Sunday.

Israel turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Hamas rulers had accepted, an Egyptian official said Friday, on condition of anonymity.

What triggered the current round of violence?

The conflict was triggered by the possible evictions of four Palestinian families in contested East Jerusalem. Right-wing Jewish settlers have claimed in legal proceedings that the homes were owned by Jews prior to 1948.

In order to defuse tensions, Israel postponed the hearing on the case.

Palestinians were also outraged after Israeli security forces entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque, disrupting worshippers with stun grenades. Muslims were congregating for prayer during the holy month of Ramadan. 

On Monday, Hamas threatened to shoot rockets towards Jerusalem unless Israeli forces leave the Temple Mount, a site revered by Muslims and Jews. Hamas then launched rockets towards the city for the first time since the 2014 Gaza war.

In response, Israel began carrying out airstrikes on alleged Hamas-affiliated targets in Gaza, with the military operation dubbed "Operation Guardian of the Four Walls," in reference to Jerusalem.

sc, wd/mm (AP, Reuters, AFP)