The Mercury

Fear as air strikes escalate


THE exodus began after missiles struck the Gaza building.

Carrying luggage, personal documents and valuables, residents walked away from the damaged structure, where an air strike wrecked two apartments that they said was used by the Interior Ministry, run by Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group.

“Israel is bombing civilians in their homes because they are unable to face the men from the resistance. We are easier targets for them,” said one woman, who gave her name only as Umm Hassan.

Residents on both sides have sought cover as rocket attacks and air strikes have escalated since Monday into the heaviest fighting between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in Gaza.

In Tel Aviv, where sirens blared repeatedly early yesterday, heralding rocket barrages launched from Gaza, Margo Aronovic, a 26-year-old student, spoke of “a really scary night”.

Nir Livnat, 26, a constructi­on services worker, said his adrenaline kicked the Israeli apartment in when the sirens sounded.

“You know you need to find a shelter,” he said. “After you find a shelter, you see everybody. It’s very (warming) to see everybody helping each other. We take care of each other.”

In a separate Israeli air strike in Gaza that destroyed a multistore­y apartment building and which local residents said also housed a Hamas office, Israel had warned its occupants to leave. And out they came.

There was no such tip-off before the strike against the building that housed the Interior Ministry’s “Foreign Affairs Department”, which issued entry permits to Gaza, one resident, Nawal Khader, said.

One of the missiles struck the road outside the building, sending smoke and dust into apartments.

“They didn’t warn us. We would have left before the air strikes if they did,” Khader said.

Meanwhile, the armed wing of the Palestinia­n Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) yesterday claimed responsibi­lity for killing one Israeli by an anti-tank missile.

The group, known as al-Qassam Brigades, said in a text message that its militants fired an anti-tank missile towards Israeli vehicles near Netiv HaAsara, a moshav (co-op) in southern Israel.

The Israeli media reported one was killed and others injured after militants in Gaza attacked an Israeli jeep by a Kornet anti-tank guided missile.

The Gaza militants then fired mortars in an attempt to prevent the wounded from being evacuated, according to the Israeli media.

From Monday evening to yesterday morning, over 850 rockets were fired into Israel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and another 200 fell inside the besieged coastal enclave, killing five Israelis.

Earlier yesterday, Israeli fighter jets carried out air strikes on Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip, Palestinia­n security sources said.

The sources said the Israeli strikes targeted the building of police headquarte­rs in Gaza city.

Iyad al-Buzom, spokespers­on of the Hamas-run interior ministry, said that the Israeli jets destroyed the building.

Witnesses said dozens of huge explosions were heard in western Gaza city after the building was bombed.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokespers­on of the Hamas-run health ministry, said that 43 Palestinia­ns have been killed, including 13 children and three women, and 296 injured in the Gaza Strip since Monday evening. Islamist group Hamas said several of its top commanders were killed in Israeli strikes yesterday, including its military chief in Gaza City, Bassem Issa.

Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, named Issa as one of the four top Hamas militants who it said were killed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the killing, noting he had warned that the lives of Palestinia­n militants in Gaza were at risk. “This is just the beginning; we’ll deliver them blows they haven’t dreamt of,” he said. |

 ??  ?? PARTS of a broken mannequin lie on the ground near a tower building which was hit by Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of IsraeliPal­estinian violence in Gaza City yesterday. | Reuters
PARTS of a broken mannequin lie on the ground near a tower building which was hit by Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of IsraeliPal­estinian violence in Gaza City yesterday. | Reuters

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