The Gold Coast Bulletin
Hamas steps up rocket attacks
TEL AVIV: Hamas unleashed a fresh barrage of deadly rocket fire towards Israel on Wednesday in retaliation for the levelling of a 14-story building in Gaza by Israel, which ruled out an imminent ceasefire.
Hamas said the volley of 130 rockets, which killed a sixyear-old boy in southern Israel and set off air raid warnings up to Tel Aviv, was a response to the destruction of Gaza City’s Al-Farouk tower.
The tower, which spewed black smoke from bright embers following the strike, was described by Israel as housing the Hamas intelligence service, among its latest targets in two days of relentless air strikes.
Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz had earlier vowed more attacks on Hamas and other Islamist militant groups in Gaza to bring “total, long-term quiet” before considering a ceasefire.
“This is just the beginning,” warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Gaza militants have launched roughly 1200 rockets since Monday, said Israel’s army, which has carried out more than 350 air strikes on the crowded coastal enclave, hitting what it calls military targets.
The most intense hostilities in seven years between Israel and Gaza’s armed groups were triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
After Israeli police stormed the mosque in response to projectiles thrown by Palestinian worshippers, Hamas vowed revenge.
At least 65 people have been killed in Gaza, including 16 children, and seven in Israel, including a soldier and one Indian national, since Monday.
The six-year-old boy died after a rocket struck his home in Sderot.
The UN Security Council held another emergency meeting without agreeing on a joint statement due to opposition from the United States, Israel’s ally.
According to several sources, 14 of the 15 members of the council were in favour of adopting a joint declaration aimed at reducing tension.
However, the US saw the meeting as a sufficient show of concern, diplomats told AFP on condition of anonymity, and did not think a statement would “help de-escalate” the situation.
“The United States has been actively engaged in diplomacy behind the scenes with all parties, and across the region, to seek to de-escalate the situation. At this stage, a council statement would be counterproductive,” said one source.
A new meeting – this time public – could be held within days, however.
“The Palestinians have asked for a public meeting,” a diplomat told AFP.