The Latest: Israeli aircraft strike another building in Gaza
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians, sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem and as Israel has signaled it’s widening its military campaign:
JERUSALEM — Israeli aircraft have attacked another building in Gaza City.
The nine-story structure houses residential apartments, medical production companies and a dental clinic.
Israeli aircraft fired five warning rockets from a drone to alert people of the incoming bombing early Wednesday. Shortly afterward, the jets struck the building again after journalists and rescuers gathered around.
There were no immediate word on casualties.
The high-rise was heavily damaged. Smoke and debris reached The Associated Press’ Gaza office 200 meters (yards) away.
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security will hold emergency consultations Wednesday on the escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis.
The U.N. Mideast envoy, Tor Wennesland, is expected to brief the 15 council members virtually at the closed meeting, which is being called at the request of China, Tunisia and Norway.
China holds the council presidency this month and its U.N. mission confirms plans for the second emergency meeting in three days. It is an indication of growing international concern about the conflict and where it might lead.
The U.N.’s most powerful body has not yet taken any action.
China, Tunisia and Norway proposed a draft statement at Monday’s meeting expressing “grave concern” at escalating tensions and calling on Israel to cease evictions. The U.S. State Department said the U.S. wants to ensure any council statements “don’t escalate tensions.”
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas’ leader says Israel is responsible for the latest round of fighting in the region because of its actions in Jerusalem.
The fighting broke out on Monday after Israeli police used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. On Tuesday, Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza while militants barraged Israel with hundreds of rockets. The exchange killed a number of militants and civilians in Gaza and at least three people in Israel.
Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh in a live speech on Tuesday said that Gaza militants “have defended Jerusalem.”
He confirmed Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations were trying to broker a cease-fire but said that Hamas “told everybody, it’s the Israeli occupation that set Jerusalem on fire and the flames reached Gaza.”
Haniyeh added that Israel is “responsible for all these consequences.”
JERUSALEM — The Israeli Foreign Ministry says one of the three women killed in Israel from Gaza rocket attacks was an Indian national working as a caregiver, not an Israeli as had been previously assumed.
The woman was identified as Soumya Santosh.
Israel’s ambassador to India, Ron Malka, extended his condolences on Twitter for the death of an Indian national on Tuesday. He wrote: “Our hearts are crying with her 9 years old son that lost his mother in this cruel Terrorist attack.”
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai ordered the city’s schools remain closed on Wednesday following a late-night barrage of rocket fire on his city. City Hall said there would be no remote learning to allow teachers to remain with their families.
Hamas militants in Gaza said they fired 130 rockets toward Tel Aviv.
UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is demanding an immediate halt to the “spiraling escalation” in Israeli-Palestinian violence. A spokesman says the United Nations “is working with all relevant parties to de-escalate the situation urgently.”
Guterres “is gravely concerned” by the upsurge in violence, and “is deeply saddened to learn of increasingly large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.
Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday that “Israeli security forces must exercise maximum restraint and calibrate their use of force.” He also added that “the indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli population centers is unacceptable.”
He said when asked whether Guterres had been in contact with key players that “contacts are continuing to be held at all levels with all interested parties in an effort to de-escalate the situation.”
Dujarric was pressed about whether Guterres condemned the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza but refused to use the word condemn, saying only that the U.N. chief “stands against the killing of any and all civilians.”
WASHINGTON — The White House says President Joe Biden is being briefed daily on developments in Jerusalem and Gaza, and has directed his team to engage intensively with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials as well as leaders throughout the Middle East.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that Biden’s team is communicating a clear and consistent message in support of de escalation.
“That is our primary focus,” she said, adding that Biden supports Israel’s “legitimate right to defend itself and its people” and at the same time condemns ongoing “rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups including against Jerusalem.”
She added that the Biden administration “will also continue to support a two state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.”
“That is the only way to ensure the just and lasting peace that two peoples have struggled to achieve,” she added.
Separately, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi on Tuesday to condemn the Hamas rocket attacks and “reiterate the important message of de-escalation.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price says Washington calls “on all sides to exercise restraint.”
CAIRO — Arab foreign ministers have urged the International Criminal Court to proceed with an investigation into Israel’s possible war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians, including the planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
The minister met virtually on Tuesday to discuss on the latest escalation of violence in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Gaza Strip. In a statement after the meeting, they called for the ICC to mobilize resources for such an investigation.
They strongly condemned what they call Israel’s crimes against Muslim worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the latest court orders to evict families of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The ministers urged the U.N. Security Council to take action in order to stop the “Israeli aggression” and provide “international protection” to the Palestinian people.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged all nations to condemn Israel’s “brutal and cruel crime” against Palestinians in the wake of the latest Mideast escalation.
Iranian state TV on Tuesday quoted Khamenei as saying that it was a duty of every state to take a stand and condemn this “evil, criminal, brutal and cruel” action by Israel.
Khamenei also said Palestinian need to be empowered in order to “force” Israel to accept their rights.
“They should make themselves powerful, resist and confront so as to force the other party to withdraw from crime and surrender to what’s right and fair,” Khamenei said.
Khamenei added: “You cannot speak to these criminals except in the language of power.”
Iran is considered Israel’s archenemy and backs anti-Israel militant groups across the region, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s police chief is beefing up deployments across the country in response to a wave of unrest in Arab communities.
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.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Gulf Arab countries are offering harsh criticism of Israel in the wake of the latest Israeli-Palestinian confrontation as violence rises in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Hundreds of Kuwaitis staged a sit-in outside Parliament, chanting “No to normalization” with Israel and voicing support for the Palestinians. Tuesday’s protest, which blocked traffic and drew outspoken activists, officials and lawmakers, comes as Gulf Arab sheikhdoms with new diplomatic ties to Israel increasingly condemn the escalation.
As part of the U.S.-brokered normalization agreements known as the “Abraham Accords,” the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain opened ties with Israel last fall, reversing the decades-long Arab policy of conditioning relations on a resolution of the Mideast conflict and drawing intense backlash from the Palestinians.
The de facto leader of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, stressed “the importance of putting an end to all aggressions and practices that exacerbate tension and wrath in the sacred city” of Jerusalem. He discussed flaring Mideast tensions in meetings Tuesday with the Bahraini crown prince and Jordan’s prime minister.
Bahrain also renewed its criticism of the rising tensions, with the speaker of parliament affirming the kingdom’s support for a two-state solution and denouncing Israel’s “provocations against the people of Jerusalem,” including threatened home evictions and attacks in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Harsh condemnations also have poured in from regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia and the tiny state of Kuwait, which have traditionally considered themselves among the standard-bearers for the Palestinian cause.
JERUSALEM — Israeli police have 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 central Israel.
The shooting early on Tuesday in Lod came at a time of heightened tensions following weeks of unrest at a contested holy site in Jerusalem and heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The fighting has spilled over into Israel’s Arab sector, with protests taking place in dozens of communities across the country.
Thousands of people took part in the funeral in Lod. Police said two officers were injured and a patrol car was set on fire.
Israeli police have arrested three people suspected of involvement in the shooting.
CAIRO — Egypt’s top diplomat says he has conveyed messages to Israel and other nations to help de-escalate the outbreak of violence in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry told a virtual meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Tuesday that though Cairo has not received a positive response, it will continue with efforts to calm down the escalation in the holy city. He did not elaborate.
Earlier in the day, an Egyptian intelligence official said Cairo is engaged in “intensive” talks with Israel and Gaza militants on reaching a cease-fire to end the latest round of fighting.
The Egyptian foreign minister also lashed out at Israel for its what he called “violations” at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and Israel’s planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
He called on all Arab nations to unite “at this critical moment” to prevent any attempts to change the status quo in Jerusalem, and to help Palestinians achieve their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — 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” after Israel unleashed new deadly airstrikes on Gaza.
The organization’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.”
Since sundown Monday, 26 Palestinians — including nine children and a woman— were killed in Gaza, most by airstrikes, Gaza health officials said. During the same period, Gaza militants fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel, killing two Israeli civilians and wounding 10 others.
KARACHI, Pakistan — Dozens of Pakistanis have rallied in the southern port city of Karachi to condemn Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan.
The demonstrators, who mostly included members of the civil society, chanted against Israel to express solidarity with the Palestinians. They also burned an Israeli and an American flag to express their anger against the use of force against Palestinian worshippers.
The demonstrators were holding a banner that read as: “Israel is an illegitimate state”.
The rally on Tuesday came hours after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in a televised comment denounced Israel’s use of force against Palestinians. Pakistan is one of the few countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel.
TEHRAN, Iran — The foreign minister of Iran has denounced what he calls the aggression of Israeli security forces in the holy city of Jerusalem and expressed Iran’s solidarity with the Palestinians amid escalating violence.
Mohammad Javad Zarif says in a video message released on Tuesday in Arabic that the “attacks” on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of the holiest sites in Islam, are “the greatest evidence there is of the discriminatory and criminal nature” of Israel.
Zarif blamed Israel for fueling “insecurity and instability in the region” and also proposed a “popular referendum” in the Palestinian territories as “the only just solution to the Palestinian issue” so that Palestinians may decide “their own fate.”
Zarif affirmed that Iran “is always on the side of the Palestinians and supportive of their cause” and called the Palestinian conflict “the pivotal issue of the Islamic world and people.”
Iran is considered Israel’s archenemy and backs anti-Israel militant groups across the region, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
MADRID — A few dozen people have gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in the Spanish capital to protest Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians.
Most of the crowd on Tuesday in Madrid waved Palestinian flags. They shouted “Israel, assassin of the Palestinian people” and “it’s Palestine, not Israel” in Spanish.
Some held up photos of Palestinians being arrested by Israeli forces. All wore face masks as stipulated by Spanish health laws to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
CAIRO — The head of the Arab League has blamed Israel for the escalation of violence in the Palestinian territories, warning that Israeli policies would blow up the situation in Jerusalem.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the 22-member organization, spoke on Tuesday as Arab foreign ministers were meeting to discuss the latest bout of violence between the Palestinians and Israelis.
He decried what he called Israel’s provocative practices in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the planned eviction of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
“What we have witnessed is, clearly and frankly, a provocation by the Israeli occupation, that targeted the holiest Islamic sanctities, at at the most sacred time,” he said, referring to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
He urged the U.N. Security Council to take action.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A gathering of representatives of Muslim nations has condemned Israel for the outbreak of violence in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam.
The emergency meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation was held on Tuesday in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, to present a unified response from the Muslim world to the soaring tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and the latest violent confrontations in Jerusalem.
In a communiqué, the meeting denounced Israel’s “continuous violations” of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, “barbaric attacks” against worshippers and movement restrictions on Palestinians at the compound. It said that it considered the Israeli actions a “provocation of the feelings of Muslims around the world and serious violation of international law.”
It called on the international community to hold Israel liable for the escalation and to press it to halt attacks that threaten “the security and stability of the region.” It also reaffirmed the long-standing Arab stance of support for an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.
ANKARA, Turkey — The office of Turkey’s president says he is engaged in intense telephone diplomacy in a bid to end Israel’s use of force against the Palestinians.
Since late Monday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken to Malaysia’s king and the leaders of Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan, as he seeks a strong stance by Muslim nations against Israel, according to Erdogan’s office.
The Turkish president, who has has strongly denounced Israel’s actions against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the fasting month of Ramadan, has also spoken to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh.
The latest round of fighting comes as Turkey has reportedly been seeking to restore ties with Israel. The two countries withdrew their ambassadors in 2018, after the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking mass protests by Palestinians.
Late on Monday, thousands of protesters marched to Israel’s embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul to protest Israel, ignoring Turkey’s COVID-19 restrictions.
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it has assassinated a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza on Tuesday,
It said the militant was the head of the Islamic Jihad’s rocket unit and identified him as Samih al-Mamluk. The military said other senior militants in the organization were also killed in the same strike.
Islamic Jihad confirmed the three killed in an airstrike in an apartment in Gaza City were senior members of its armed wing. The militant group vowed retaliation.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister has denounced Israel’s use of force against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Imran Khan said Tuesday that he had asked his foreign minister to contact his Turkish and Saudi counterparts to discuss how to collectively respond.
Earlier, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a news conference urged the world community to take notice of Israel’s use of force against innocent Palestinians worshippers.
Under discussion is whether Pakistan, Saudi and Turkish officials should convene the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group of Islamic countries.
Pakistan is one of the few countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel.
JERUSALEM — Israeli media reports that a rocket has struck an empty school in the coastal city of Ashkelon, not far from the Gaza Strip.
Television footage showed thick smoke rising from cars that had caught on fire.
Israel’s Home Front Command had ordered the closure of schools on Monday in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, including Ashkelon. The move came during the escalation of tension that’s built for weeks over contested Jerusalem..
Since Monday, Gaza militants have fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel.
Israel has fired back. An airstrike has hit a high-rise building in the middle of Gaza City. Local media reported that Tuesday’s airstrike killed an unknown number of militants inside.
The strike in the middle class Rimal neighborhood sent terrified residents of the building into the streets. They included screaming women and children, some of whom were barefoot.
Earlier Tuesday, Israel hit a high-rise where it said a Hamas commander was hiding.
CAIRO — An Egyptian intelligence official says Egypt is engaged in “intensive” talks with Israel and Gaza militants on reaching a cease-fire to end the latest round of fighting.
The official said the efforts began in late April as the situation in Jerusalem worsened. He said Israeli actions, including the recent storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the planed evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in an east Jerusalem neighborhood, have frustrated the mediators.
The official says “the situation is changing rapidly,” but officials nonetheless hope to reach a truce before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr later this week. Egypt frequently mediates between Israel and Hamas.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing ongoing diplomatic efforts.
—Samy Magdy in Cairo
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — An Israeli airstrike has hit another high-rise building in the middle of Gaza City. Local media reported that Tuesday’s airstrike killed an unknown number of militants inside.
But the airstrike in the middle-class Rimal neighborhood in Gaza sent terrified residents of the building into the streets. They included screaming women and children, some of whom were barefoot.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israel hit a high-rise where it said a Hamas commander was hiding. Palestinian health officials said a woman and her 19-year-old disabled son were killed. The fate of the Hamas commander was not immediately known.
Since Monday, Gaza militants have also fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel.
The escalation in the conflict was sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem.