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Israel deliberately destroyed a residential tower in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday despite warnings from Palestinian resistance groups not to target civilian infrastructure.
Videos circulated on social media show the al-Hanadi apartment building collapsing after it was struck by an Israeli missile.
In response, the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas fired some 130 rockets at Tel Aviv and surrounding areas Tuesday evening.
As a result, Israel was forced to briefly shut down its main airport for almost two hours, diverting flights to Cyprus.
Palestinian resistance rockets also apparently set fire to a major oil pipeline running from the southern city of Ashkelon to the Israeli port of Eilat:
Israel fully anticipated the reaction it would receive after striking the residential building in Gaza.
“We expect that this powerful attack on the high-rise building, which shook all of Gaza, will lead to extensive shooting toward Israel,” an Israeli military spokesperson told Tel Aviv daily Haaretz.
Israeli warplanes and artillery have struck 140 sites in the besieged Gaza Strip, including civilian homes, dense residential neighborhoods, factories, farm land and other infrastructure, according to Al Mezan, a human rights group in Gaza.
An Israeli military strike also hit an area surrounding the Indonesian hospital in northern Gaza, inflicting damage on the hospital.
“This is a deliberate crime in which the occupation is targeting innocent people and now aiming to deprive them of medical treatment,” the health ministry stated.
The ministry said the northern Hala al-Shawa medical center is “completely out of commission” as a result of a nearby military strike, preventing thousands of Palestinians, including mothers and their children, from receiving treatment.
Death toll climbs
Gaza’s health ministry reported 32 Palestinians killed in Gaza since Monday, including 10 children, and more than 200 injuries.
The death toll could climb as more serious injuries are being reported.
In Israel, three people have been killed as Palestinian resistance factions sent barrages of rockets towards the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and the Tel Aviv area.
An Israeli military strike hit a seven-story building housing 13 apartments in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp at dawn on Tuesday.
Amira Abd al-Fattah Subh, 63, and her 19-year-old son Abd al-Rahman Subh, who had special needs and cerebral palsy, were killed in the attack.
Hours later, Israeli warplanes struck another large residential tower with 14 stories in Gaza City, killing three Palestinians.
Israel’s military and its domestic spying and torture agency Shin Bet admitted this was a targeted attack to kill Samah al-Mamluk, the head of the missile unit for resistance organization Islamic Jihad’s military wing.
The same military strike also killed Kamal Qreqe and Muhammad Abu al-Ata, also Islamic Jihad militants.
Israel’s killing of al-Mamluk echoes the assassination of Muhammad Abu al-Ata’s brother in November 2019, Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata.
Videos show women and children running outside the same building covered in dust:
Israel’s defense minister Benny Gantz authorized the Israeli army to call up 5,000 reservists – but it remains unclear whether the military will do so.
Threatening more violence
Israeli leaders vowed to commit more violence against Palestinians in Gaza throughout Tuesday.
The Israeli military has its “foot on the gas,” an army spokesperson said, as Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip entered its second day.
“There is one address in Gaza: It is called Hamas,” the spokesman said, adding that the Israeli army will attack it “with great force.”
Such a statement could be a tacit admission that Israel treats Gaza as one massive military target, blurring distinctions that should protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, even as children comprise roughly half of Gaza’s population.
“We will intensify the raids and we will strengthen their pace,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, after two Israelis were reported killed in Ashkelon.
“Hamas will suffer strikes it does not expect.”
On Tuesday, Gantz, the defense minister, threatened that “for every day that they shoot at Israeli citizens, we will send them back years.”
Gantz appeared to be reviving his 2019 campaign boast that in 2014 he bombed Gaza back to the “stone ages.”
In 2014, he was Israel’s chief of staff commanding the 51-day assault that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children.
Five children from one family
A rocket-propelled grenade killed eight Palestinians east of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza on Monday, including six children, according to an Al Mezan investigation.
The human rights group did not specify the source of the rocket. Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) has not confirmed the cause of the blast either.
DCIP said that at the time of the incident, Israeli warplanes were overhead in Gaza as Palestinian resistance organizations were firing rockets into southern Israel.
Five of the children killed were from the same family.
Ahmad Muhammad al-Masri, 21, and his sister Rahaf Muhammad al-Masri, 10, as well as their cousins, siblings Marwan Yusef al-Masri, 7, and Ibrahim Yusef al-Masri, 11.
The youngest victim was 2-year-old Yazan Sultan al-Masri.
Muhammad Ali Nuseir, 20, Hussein Munir Hamad, 11 and Ibrahim Abdullah Hasanein, 16, were all killed in the same blast.
Also on Monday, an Israeli warplane struck an agricultural field east of Jabaliya, northern Gaza, killing Sabir Ibrahim Suleiman, 38, and his 16-year-old son Muhammad Sabir Suleiman. Both died of their injuries after being hit with shrapnel.
Sabir Suleiman was reportedly a commander with Hamas’ military wing.
An Israeli warplane struck Muhammad Abdallah Fayyad, 25, as he was walking through the al-Salah neighborhood in Beit Hanoun on Monday, killing him immediately.
An Israeli military strike hit Khan Younis on Monday, injuring three Palestinians. One of them, 37-year-old Salim Muhammad al-Farra died of his injuries the next day, according to Al Mezan.
Israel imposed collective punishment on Gaza by tightening its 14-year siege of the territory even further.
It completely shuttered the Kerem Shalom checkpoint, the only crossing where Israel allows goods in and out of Gaza, as well as the Erez checkpoint, the only crossing for people between Gaza and Israel.
This “threatens the lives of patients who need to travel to receive medical treatment” unavailable in the Gaza Strip, Al Mezan stated.
Israel also completely restricted the fishing zone, which directly targets Gaza’s economy and its two million inhabitants.
Al Mezan condemned those measures as “the continuation of the policy of collective punishment.”
Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.