Israel has vowed to continue attacks on the Gaza strip to bring ‘total, long-term quiet’ amid growing international alarm at the increasing civilian death toll from retaliatory air strikes targeting Hamas militants.
Israeli Defence Minister, Benny Gantz, said: “the army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce”.
His bloody charge comes just as the Palestinian death toll rose to 43, including 13 children, with at least 230 Palestinians injured.
The defence minister issued the fresh warning from the southern town of Ashkelon where two Israeli women were killed by Hamas rockets on Tuesday. Also, five Israelis have so far been killed by the rocket attacks targeting civilians, including a child in the early hours of this morning.
Meanwhile, the United Nations, UN, has cautioned the two sides that they risk a ‘full-scale war’ if there is not an urgent ceasefire.
“Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation,” Tor Wennesland, UN Special Envoy to the Middle East tweeted.
Militants have fired more than 1,050 rockets since Monday, with 200 of them falling short and landing inside Gaza, injuring many of their own, while the vast majority of the rest have been shot down by the Iron Dome defence system, Israel said.
Early on Wednesday, the Israeli Air Force unleashed dozens of strikes, targeting underground Hamas infrastructure, after which it dispatched two infantry brigades to the area of a downed militant drone, indicating preparations for a possible ground invasion.
Reacting, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson condemned the spiralling conflict this morning hours.
“I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint. The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties,” he said.
Despite international condemnation for the bloodshed, the worst since the 2014 war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for ceasefire, vowing last night to ‘step up’ attacks.
Responding, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in turn, “if Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it”.
The conflict began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Muslim neighbourhoods ignited protests and clashes with police.
The International Criminal Court, ICC, at the Hague, announced on Wednesday morning that it was looking at possible ‘crimes’ committed as the ferocious cross-border engagement entered its third day.