Israel and Hamas have launched an open war after two days of general hostilities. At least 53 Palestinians, including militiamen and civilians, and six Israelis (including a woman of Indian nationality) have been killed in around 500 Israeli aviation operations and as a result of the firing of a thousand rockets by Palestinian militias. The escalation unleashed after the firing of shells on Jerusalem on Monday entered into the early hours of Wednesday in a perspective of generalized war with massive bombings by the Israeli Army, the demolition of buildings of various heights with aviation missiles and targeted assassinations of chiefs of the Islamic militias of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. At least half a dozen commanders have died in their bases or homes in the air offensive. The Israeli government has declared a state of emergency in the city of Lod, 15 kilometers from Tel Aviv, in the face of unrest over protests by the Arab minority against military intervention.
Photogallery: The exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas
While the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has called on the Army to “make pay the price of their blood” for the attacks against Israelis, the top leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniya, called for a crusade for Jerusalem to all Palestinians in a statement released this Wednesday. The war rhetoric suggests that hostilities will last for at least several days with no prospect of reaching a truce despite international mediation attempts, mainly from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations.
According to the latest balance of the Gazati Ministry of Health, there are 53 dead in the Strip, including 14 minors and three women. The Israeli offensive has injured another 296 people. This morning alone, more than 200 rockets have been fired from Gaza heading south, to cities like Beersheva, and central Israel, in the Tel Aviv area. In Lod, in the central area, a 52-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter were killed by a direct hit from a projectile at their home. The latest Israeli victim is a driver injured in an anti-tank missile fired by Islamic Jihad along the Gaza border. The Israeli missile defense shield, called the Iron Dome, carried out several interceptions.
“If you do not reach the shelter, you are lost”
Two of the victims of the Palestinian militia projectiles are a 32-year-old Indian woman and the 90-year-old woman she was caring for in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, on the Strip’s northern border. Their neighbor Eli Landu, a 62-year-old postman, told a group of media, including EL PAÍS, that they had no refuge in their house, which was old. “There is only 30 seconds to get to the shelter; If not, you are lost ”, explains Landau about fifteen kilometers from the Gaza border, with a horizon of columns of smoke in the background. The explosions of the Israeli bombings happen incessantly.
The Israeli Armed Forces have reinforced the border areas of the Palestinian enclave with battalions of infantry and tanks. More than 3,000 reservists have been mobilized by the command of the Southern Division, which operates in the region, to reinforce the combat units with intelligence services. The Chief of the General Staff, General Aviv Kochavi, gave the go-ahead for operational units to carry out targeted assassinations against Palestinian militia commanders, several of whom have already lost their lives, according to spokesmen for their organizations.
Daily life has come to a standstill in the Gaza Strip on the last day of Ramadan, this Wednesday, while residents are watching for warnings issued by the Israeli Army prior to the bombing of buildings or positions of Islamic guerrillas – various buildings were destroyed on Tuesday, including a 13-story high block that housed a Hamas political office. Neighbors in the area were alerted an hour in advance. As reported by the Israeli Army, the aviation has reached in the last hours the homes of the commander of Gaza City, Basa Misa, that of Khan Younis, Rafah Salameh, and the head of the militia’s spy apparatus, Muhammad Yizuri.
In southern and central Israel, where waves of dozens of rockets have continued to fall during the night, a million students have seen face-to-face classes suspended and have been sent home to follow them electronically. Meanwhile, the Home Front of the Army (Civil Protection) has ordered all the inhabitants of these regions, more than half of the country’s population, to stay in their homes, and near bomb shelters.
The crisis has also spread to the West Bank, where there have been clashes with the Army at border checkpoints and, for the first time, also to Israeli cities with a majority Arab population. This is the case in Lod, near Tel Aviv, where clashes between Jewish and Arab neighbors have caused at least one death. The Government of Israel has declared a state of emergency here. In clashes with the border police, a militarized body sent to reinforce security, 12 protesters have been injured.
Basic infrastructures, such as Ben Gurion International Airport, south of Tel Aviv, are affected and also the Eilat Ashkelon pipeline, hit by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.
The wave of violence that broke out in Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan, where more than 300 Palestinians were injured on Monday in clashes with the police at the Al Aqsa mosque, has spread to the Gaza enclave, which has suffered three devastating disputes since Hamas seized power in the territory in 2007. Along with protests at the police barriers placed in Ramadan at the Damascus Gate, the main access to the Muslim quarter of the Old City, citizen mobilization to stop the evictions of Sheikh Yarrah, who had been brought to justice by a settler association linked to the far right, was behind the origin of the outbreak in Jerusalem during the holy month of Islam.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.