Israel and Hamas have continued to fight, with no signs of deescalation. Israeli airstrikes hit multiple buildings in Gaza, killing civilians, while Hamas rained a barrage of rockets on southern Israel.
Israel and Hamas traded blows on Saturday, with no signs of deescalation between the two sides. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the military operation towards the Gaza Strip, while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the militant group will not back down.
Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel will strike Gaza “as long as necessary.” He also pledged to limit civilian casualties and blamed Hamas for the ongoing violence.
“The party that bears guilt for this confrontation is not us, it’s those attacking us,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks.
On the Palestinian side, Hamas leader Haniyeh said his organization will not retreat in the face of Israeli attacks. During a pro-Palestinian rally in Doha, Qatar, Haniyeh said the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was a “red line.”
“The title of this battle today, the title of the war, and the title of the intifada (uprising) is Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” Haniyeh exclaimed. He said as Israeli attacks continue, “the resistance will increase [its force] to a higher level.”
Israeli airstirkes on Gaza draw controversy
Israel hammered Gaza with airstrikes on Saturday, targeting a home in the al-Shati refugee camp, which killed 10 people. Israel also flattened a high-rise in Gaza City which held offices of major news outlets such as Al-Jazeera and the Associated Press (AP).
In both cases, the Israeli military claimed it was hitting targets affiliated with Hamas.
Al-Jazeera slammed the attack, claiming it was an attempt to silence the media and characterizing the airstrike as a crime “perpetuated by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip.” AP CEO Gary Pruitt said he was “shocked” by the attack.
In a later statement, AP called on Israel to provide evidence that Hamas was operating in the building. The news agency said it “had seen no indication that Hamas was in the building or active in the building” where its Gaza bureau was located.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Pruitt on Saturday to express his support for media reporting on combat zones.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “dismayed” and “disturbed” by the airstrikes on the home in the al-Shati camp and the media building in Gaza City, according to remarks from his spokesperson. The UN Security Council will convene in a closed-door session on Sunday to discuss the conflict.
In response to the airstrikes, Hamas shot a barrage of rockets at Israel, targeting southern cities such as Beersheba. An Israeli man in his 50s was killed by a rocket in Ramat Gan, located near Tel Aviv.
So far, at least 145 Palestinians have died, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Ten people in Israel have died amid the violence.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally across Europe, North America
Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across major world cities to condemn Israel’s military operation and express solidarity with the Palestinians. The protests marked “Nakba Day,” which refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948.
In Europe, protesters gathered in cities such as Berlin, Madrid, Paris and London. Protesters wore Palestinian symbols such as the Keffiyah scarves, waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans such as “Free Palestine!”
DW correspondent Jared Reed said police broke up a demonstration in the Berlin district of Neukölln on Saturday.
In North America, demonstrators took to the streets in New York City, Boston, Montreal, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
How have other countries responded to the crisis?
In Iraq, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Baghdad and other cities to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Egypt sent ambulances into Gaza to help deal with the wounded.
In Iran, a military commander in the Quds Force praised Hamas’ tactics against Israel.
In the West, US President Joe Biden held a phone call with Netanyahu on Friday, where he expressed “grave concern” over recent violence but also said Israel has a right to defend itself. Biden also spoke with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for the first time on Friday.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that Israel has the right to defend itself from “Hamas’ terror rockets.” He outlined three stages to deescalate tensions and said a two-state solution should still be considered.
What triggered the latest round of tensions?
The current round of tensions was triggered by the possible eviction of six Palestinian families from their homes in Arab-majority East Jerusalem. Right-wing Jewish settlers claim in court that Jews had owned the land in the upper-class Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood prior to 1948.
In order to defuse tensions, Israel postponed the court hearing on the case.
The crisis then escalated when Israeli security forces broke up Palestinian worshippers in the holy Al-Aqsa mosque last week. Muslims typically congregate in group prayer during the holy month of Ramadan.
Hamas on Monday called on Israeli forces to leave the Temple Mount, or else it would fire rockets at Jerusalem. Israeli troops did not leave the area.
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.