Tel Aviv under-fire from barrage of rockets, as Gaza holds funeral for 26 dead

The Israeli city of Tel Aviv is under fire from a barrage of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night as tensions continued to escalate. Israel police fire stun grenades at protesters ahead of Israeli nationalist march

Hamas said it had fired over 130 rockets towards the city in response to an Israeli air strike that had flattened a tower block earlier in the day.

It comes as Israeli paramedics earlier confirmed that two women were killed in rocket attacks in southern Israel today.

Both victims reportedly died after one rocket hit a residential building and two landed in an open area. A third person is thought to be in a critical condition.

Meanwhile, the first funerals have been held for some of the 26 people killed – including nine children – in a wave of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The youngest victim was 10 years old, Gaza health officials told The Independent. More than 700 Palestinians have been injured since the outbreak of violence in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, including around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Tel Aviv under fire from barrage of rockets

The Israeli city of Tel Aviv is under fire from a barrage of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.

The outgoing volleys set off air raid sirens across the city on Tuesday night, and Israel’s anti-rocket defense systems were activated.

Hamas said it launched a total of 130 rockets, its most intense strike so far, in response to Israel’s destruction of a high-rise building in Gaza earlier in the evening.

The sound of the outgoing rockets could be heard in Gaza.

Sirens in Tel Aviv warn of rocket fire from Gaza

Sirens warning of incoming rocket fire blared in Tel Aviv and central Israel on Tuesday night, Reuters witnesses said.

The sounds of multiple explosions were also heard, just minutes after Gaza militants Hamas vowed to respond to an Israeli air strike on a residential tower in the Strip earlier in the night.

Israeli airstrikes demolish 12-storey building

Israeli airstrikes have destroyed a 12-story building in Gaza City that housed the offices of Hamas officials.

Tuesday’s airstrikes shook buildings as far as 3 kms (2 miles) away. Israeli drones fired a series of warning shots at the roof to give people time to leave the building before it was destroyed by the military.There were no immediate reports of casualties.

But the airstrike marked another escalation in Israel’s offensive against Hamas.Hamas earlier threatened to strike the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv if Israel continued striking buildings in Gaza.

International Committee of the Red Cross calls for end to violence

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called on all sides in the conflict between Israel and Hamas-run Gaza on Tuesday to de-escalate the violence that has killed at least 30 people and reminded them of the rules of war.

The ICRC regional director for the Middle East, Fabrizio Carboni, said in a statement sent to Reuters that international humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate attacks against civilians, any attack must be proportionate, and all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid civilian casualties.

He called for “rapid, safe and unimpeded movement for ambulances” and for staff and volunteers of both the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Magen David Adom Society in Israel.

Israel increasing police deployments following unrest

Israel’s police chief is beefing up deployments across the country in response to a wave of unrest.

Koby Shabtai issued the order on Tuesday as crowds set a police cruiser, motorcycle and bus on fire during protests in the central city of Lod.

Protests were expected in dozens of other Arab communities across the country.

In a statement, police said Shabtai instructed his commanders “to intensify police presence on the streets” following widespread unrest and protests in dozens of Arab communities across the country Monday night.

The mounting unrest came at a time of heightened tensions following weeks of violence in Jerusalem and heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip in the past day.

Earlier in the day in Lod, Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades after mourners started throwing stones at officers during the funeral of an Arab man allegedly killed by a Jewish resident in the area.

Arab League condemns ‘indiscriminate and irresponsible’ Israeli air strikes

The head of the Arab League condemned on Tuesday Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as “indiscriminate and irresponsible” and said Israel had provoked an earlier increase in violence by its actions in Jerusalem.

“Israeli violations in Jerusalem, and the government’s tolerance of Jewish extremists hostile to Palestinians and Arabs, is what led to the ignition of the situation in this dangerous way,” Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.

The attacks in Gaza were a “miserable show of force at the expense of children’s blood”, he said, adding that “Israeli provocations” were an affront to Muslims on the eve of the Eid holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Arab League foreign ministers held a virtual emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Jerusalem.

Humanitarian group says children paying ‘heaviest price’ as conflict escalates

The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council has urged both Israel and the Palestinians “to avoid further escalation and prevent loss of life,” saying that civilians, and specifically children, pay “the heaviest price”.

The organisation’s chief, Jan Egeland, said on Tuesday that civilians “once again” were “bearing the brunt of a dramatic escalation in hostilities.”

He added that children, whether they are Palestinian or Israeli, are left with “not only physically scarred but also emotionally damaged.”

The Oslo-based group called on “all parties to the conflict to stop the provocations and to ensure that civilians are protected.”

Egeland said in a statement that the latest events “also shows that the prolonged conflict and occupation are unsustainable.”

More than 150 targets struck in Gaza, Israeli military say

Israeli army have struck 150 targets in Gaza and militants have fired nearly 500 rockets at Israel, Lt Col Jonathan Conricus told The Independent’s Bel Trew.

“It’s the first time since 2014 that Palestinian militants have fired at Jerusalem. And the fire  is more intense than what we have seen since 2014,” he added.

Conricus said they had beefed up their presence on the border, deploying additional battalions for defensive purposes and reinforcing their fire capability.

He said from their analysis the payload from rockets in Gaza had grown but that an abnormal amount of rockets  – about a third fired – were falling short in Gaza.

Israel and Gaza slide towards all out conflict after another day of deadly violence

The crisis between Israel and Hamas in Gaza edged towards all out conflict as both sides suffered fatalities and vowed to continue exchanging fire.

Burials began Tuesday for 26 Palestinians killed overnight by airstrikes in Gaza, and two people died in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon following a rocket barrage fired from the Hamas-controlled enclave.

The surge in deadly violence was triggered by unrest in Jerusalem which saw Israeli police storm Al Asqa Mosque in Jerusalem with stun grenades and tear gas and Palestinians throw rocks, bottles and fireworks at police.

With tensions high, both sides stood on the precipice of all out war on Tuesday, writesThe Independent’s Bel Trew in Ashkelon.

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