In the early hours of Thursday morning, Hamas continued firing rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli cities and towns, including Tel Aviv, at a time when Israel pledged to continue its offensive against the Palestinian factions in the Strip.
The escalation between the two sides continued despite US President Joe Biden’s expectation that the current fighting, the fiercest in years, will soon end.
There was no immediate news of casualties due to the recent Hamas attacks, but warning sirens sounded in Israeli areas as far as Moshav Nahalal, 100 kilometers from Gaza, and thousands of Israelis were sheltering in shelters.
The Gaza Health Ministry announced that at least 67 people have been killed in the Strip, since the violence escalated on Monday.
Medical officials said seven people were killed in Israel.
The international powers demanded an end to the escalation, fearing a repeat of the Gaza war in 2014, and Washington plans to send its envoy, Hadi Amr, to hold talks with Israel and the Palestinians.
Biden said on Wednesday after calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “My expectation and hope that this will be ended sooner rather than later, but Israel has the right to defend itself.”
Biden did not explain the reasons for his optimism to end the escalation in the region.
Netanyahu’s office said he informed the US president that Israel “will continue to work to strike the military capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist groups operating in the Gaza Strip.”
On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed a senior Hamas commander and bombed several buildings, including residential towers and a bank, which Israel said were linked to the terror group’s activities.
Hamas confirmed its challenge to Israel, and Ismail Haniyeh said, “The confrontation with the enemy is open.”
Israel launched its attack after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in response to clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem during Ramadan.
The hostilities escalated before an Israeli court hearing that could have led to the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem for Jewish settlers to live.
For Israel, the targeting of the two main cities (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) posed a new challenge in the confrontation with Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist group.
A Palestinian source said that the armistice efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations had made no progress to end the violence.
The Palestinian News Agency (WAFA) said that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken telephoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and told him that Washington “is making efforts with all concerned parties to reach a lull.”