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Iran Press TV

Israel keeps up relentless bombing of Gaza; Palestinians respond with volley of rockets

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 7:59 AM

The Israeli military has launched a new series of heavy airstrikes at several locations across the Gaza Strip, while Palestinian resistance groups fired barrages of rockets at the southern part of the occupied territories, as diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire grow.

Explosions were heard and balls of fire and plumes of smoke were seen rising from several buildings in Gaza City as the day broke on Tuesday.

There were about 50 Israeli aerial attacks overnight, as well as bursts of Palestinian rocket fire.

Palestinian sources reported that Israeli warplanes flew at low altitude over areas in the Gaza Strip and struck buildings in several neighborhoods of the densely-populated Palestinian territory, including Tel al-Zaatar, Haznadar and al-Tuam.

An Israeli air raid targeted an apartment building in al-Thalathini Street of Gaza City, and warplanes bombed a target east of Khan Yunis.

Israeli fighter jets destroyed the Kahil building near the Islamic University in western Gaza, after targeting it with several missiles.

In addition, Israeli warplanes bombed an unknown target in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood southwest of Gaza City.

Palestinian resistance forces, in return, fired volleys of rockets at Israeli-occupied territories.

Fighters affiliated with the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement, launched barrages of rockets at the city of Netivot, with no immediate report about the extent of damage caused available.

At least 212 Palestinians, including 61 children, have been killed in Gaza since the violence began. Some 1,500 Palestinians have been wounded as well.

Hamas official: Resistance has been able to deter Zionists

Furthermore, the deputy head of Hamas resistance movement in the Gaza Strip said Israel has witnessed Palestinian forces' capabilities to deter its acts of aggression.

"The Zionist enemy saw that the resistance front was able to deter it, and ruin its cities. Zionists have failed to achieve any victory in the face of the sons of our nation," Khalil al-Hayya said late on Monday.

He added, "We urge our nation to put their trust in the resistance and ask God for help. Resistance will not disappoint you.

"We tell our people that we will support and help you, and that we will spare no effort to ensure your stability," the official added.

Senior Israeli commander: Concentration of Gaza rockets 'highest ever'

Meanwhile, a high-ranking Israeli military official says the Tel Aviv regime had seen the highest ever concentration of rocket attacks from the besieged Gaza Strip on the occupied territories during the past week.

"We were not fully prepared, and the volume of rockets fired from Gaza is the highest" compared to the earlier confrontations, the Hebrew-language Walla news website quoted the commander of the Home Front Command Major General Ori Gordin as saying.

Gaza's sole COVID-19 lab halts tests after Israel bombing

Separately, local authorities said Gaza's only coronavirus laboratory is no longer able to carry out testing due to an Israeli airstrike on the clinic housing it.

Dr. Yousef Abu al-Rish, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, reported late on Monday that as a result of the attack on the al-Rimal Clinic, the sole coronavirus testing lab in the enclave stopped working.

He said telemedicine services provided by the ministry during the coronavirus pandemic were halted after a number of doctors were injured.

"Targeting the Ministry of Health building, al-Remal Clinic, and the medical staff is a heinous crime aimed at preventing the ministry from continuing its humanitarian work in saving the lives of the wounded and providing health care to citizens," he said.

"The international community must hold the occupation accountable for its heinous and ongoing crimes against medical personnel and health institutions," the Palestinian medical official said.

The spokesman for the Gaza-based Palestinian Health Ministry, Ashraf Qidra, also said Israeli strikes "threaten to undermine the efforts of the ministry in the face of the COVID pandemic."

The raids "stopped screening tests... at the central laboratory," he added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says 103,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the Gaza Strip, of whom over 930 have lost their lives.

The rate of positive tests was among the highest in the world, at 28 percent, and hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients.

Before the recent Israeli military aggression on the Palestinian territory over a week ago, medical authorities in Gaza tested an average of some 1,600 people per day.

The enclave of two million residents has so far received 122,000 vaccine doses, more than half of which have not been administered yet, according to the WHO.

Israeli troops shoot dead young Palestinian over alleged stabbing attack

Separately, a young Palestinian man was fatally shot by Israeli troops following what the regime's military claimed to be a stabbing attack in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

Citing witnessed, the Palestinian Shahab news agency reported the Israeli forces shot the young man, seriously wounding him before he was declared martyred.

Local sources also said the regime's forces prevented the witnesses from approaching the victim to help or identify him. The Israeli troops, they added, it closed the area and fired shots to disperse people and journalists.

The Israeli army claimed in a statement on Tuesday that the Palestinian had approached a team of Israeli soldiers stationed at al-Karantina checkpoint, south of al-Khalil (Hebron), with a pipe bomb, a Carlo submachine gun and a knife.

It further alleged that the bomb ignited and blew up while it was still in the young man's hand.

The military said Israeli troops suffered no casualties in the incident.

Many Palestinians have sustained injuries or lost their lives in similar incidents due to allegations that they attempted stabbing or car-ramming attacks.

The Tel Aviv regime has been criticized for its extensive use of lethal force against and extrajudicial killing of Palestinians who do not pose an immediate threat to the occupation forces or to the Israeli settlers.

Palestinians stage strike to protest Israel's Gaza onslaught

Additionally, Palestinians have staged a nationwide strike across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the Israeli-occupied territories to protest Israel's latest acts of aggression.

All economic, commercial and educational centers were closed on Tuesday in a show of resentment over the Tel Aviv regime's relentless bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, assaults against worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque compound and planned forcible expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

The call for the strike has been backed by various Palestinian political parties, unions, syndicates, and popular movements, which urged Palestinians from all walks of the society to join.

The Fatah Central Committee has called on Palestinians to take part in the strike, describing it as a "Day of Rage."

It urged the international community to confront Israeli authorities' attempts to "ignite a religious conflict" through forced expulsions in Jerusalem al-Quds.

The Arab High Follow-up Committee also urged Arab Israelis to observe the strike.

Palestinians in refugee camps and worldwide are expected to participate in peaceful protests in condemnation of the Israeli aggression.

UN: 38,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza amid Israeli attacks

Moreover, the United Nations says over 38,000 Palestinians have sought shelter at dozens of schools run by the world body across the Gaza Strip after being displaced by Israel's continued attacks.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said Israeli strikes on the besieged Palestinian territory have left more than 2,500 people homeless after their houses were destroyed, and damaged 41 educational facilities including a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) vocational center and higher education facility.

Electricity has been reduced to just six to eight hours per day, resulting in ripple effects that have hindered healthcare and other services, including water and sanitation, Dujarric said.

In a brief statement on Monday, UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hassan said the agency has started to provide some basic needs for the displaced families.

"We are in urgent need of support," he said, referring to the Israeli closure on May 10 of the border crossing that is used to bring in humanitarian aid.

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