At least 28 Palestinian killed after Israel targets besieged Gaza with air strikes, with over 700 wounded in raids by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem and across occupied West Bank since the start of recent unrest.

Smoke billows from Israeli air strikes in Gaza, governed by Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021.
Smoke billows from Israeli air strikes in Gaza, governed by Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. (AFP)

At least 28 Palestinians, including 10 children, have been killed and more than 150 others wounded as Israeli warplanes continued to strike blockaded Gaza on the second day of its brutal aggression. 

The renewed Israeli aggression comes on top of the military raids in Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank in which 700 unarmed Palestinians have been wounded in the past 24 hours.

Israel unleashed its air power on Gaza early on Tuesday as an embattled patchwork of Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza vowed to retaliate as most of the world continues to ignore the plight of Palestinians.

A 13-storey residential block in Gaza collapsed after being hit by an Israeli air strike, witnesses said.

Video footage showed three plumes of thick, black smoke rising from the tower, its upper storeys still intact as they fell.

Electricity in the area around the building went out, and residents were using flashlights.

Shortly after the attack, Hamas and other resistance groups said they would respond by firing rockets at Tel Aviv.

Air raid sirens and explosions were heard around the city and Channel 12 television said there had been a direct rocket hit on a building in the suburb of Holon.

Israel halted all flights from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

"We are now carrying out our promise," Hamas's armed wing said in a statement. "The Qassam Brigades are launching their biggest rocket strike against Tel Aviv and its suburbs, with 130 rockets, in response to the enemy's targeting of residential towers."

Hours earlier, Israel had sent 80 jets to bomb Gaza and massed tanks on the security fence as rocket barrages hit Israeli towns for a second day, deepening further its aggression. 

It was not immediately clear if the building had been fully evacuated, or if there were casualties.

.Ashraf al Kidra, a spokesman for the ministry, said Israel's "relentless assault" was overwhelming the health care system, which has been struggling with a Covid-19 outbreak.

Netanyahu to escalate violence 

The Israeli army announced the launch of Operation Guardian of the Walls late on Monday against Gaza, the heavily controlled Palestinian area where food and medicines can enter only after Israeli permission.

Israel insists its air attack was in response to the many rockets that were fired from Gaza into southern Israel. Most of the rockets are homemade, manufactured in makeshift workshops using scrap metal. 

Israel said on Tuesday two women were killed from the rocket attacks in southern city of Ashkelon, the first Israeli deaths in the current fighting. 

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said officials decided to "increase both the strength and rate of the strikes."

Egypt reached out to Israel to calm tensions in Jerusalem but was met with indifference, its top diplomat told an emergency Arab League meeting on Tuesday on the crisis.

Gaza escalation

Israeli military said it was sending troop reinforcements to the Gaza border and the defence minister ordered the mobilisation of 5,000 reserve soldiers. 

Israeli warplanes targeted military sites as well as civilian residences and quarantine facilities in southern Gaza, Gaza-based journalist Nizar Sadawi reported.

Israeli tanks deployed near security fence with Gaza are also attacking the blockaded Palestinian enclave, he said.

READ MORE: Israel kills 20 Palestinians in Gaza, wounds hundreds in Al Aqsa raid

Islamic Jihad, one of the main Palestinian groups in Gaza, said that two of its commanders were killed in Israeli air strikes targeting the enclave.

Sources within the group said the strikes in central Gaza City, also "wounded eight people, including a woman and her two children."

Arab League blames Israel

Meanwhile, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit described the Israeli air strikes as "indiscriminate and irresponsible."

He said that Israel was responsible for a "dangerous escalation" in the occupied East Jerusalem, and called on the international community to act immediately to stop the violence.

In a statement issued early on Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the rocket attacks would continue until Israel stops "all scenes of terrorism and aggression in Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque".

Hamas was forced to retaliate

Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem have been calling on Hamas to retaliate after Israel attacked unarmed worshippers in Al Aqsa Mosque, Palestinian academic Azzam Tamimi told TRT World.

 "The Israelis were being called upon by Palestinians and international community to stop provoking and attacking worshippers," he said, adding that PM Netanyahu continued to pursue violence for his own political interest. 

"Palestinians resistance groups in Gaza had no choice. That was, as far as they are concerned, their national Islamic duty. Al Aqsa is not just any place in the world, it's the third holiest mosque on the face of the earth," Tamimi said.

Forced expulsions

In recent weeks, tension has been soaring in occupied Jerusalem, marked by Israeli police using excessive force against Palestinian protesters in the walled Old City, located in occupied East Jerusalem.

One of the flashpoints in the Old City has been Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site of Islam and the holiest site of Judaism.

Another driver of Palestinian anger has been the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from homes in an East Jerusalem neighbourhood by illegal Israeli settlers.

Last week, settlers swarmed in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem after an Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families who have been living in the area for generations.

Palestinians protesting in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah have been targeted by Israeli forces.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 – a move that has never been recognised by the international community.

READ MORE: Apartheid or not: What do Israelis and Palestinians think of Israel?

Gaza's main border crossings closed 

Israel closed the Kerem Shalom or Karem Abu Salem crossing, Gaza's main commercial trade route, early on Tuesday to all entries except humanitarian aid and fuel oil.

The decision was taken to close the crossing between Israel and Gaza immediately until a second order is issued, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) affiliated with the Israeli Defence Ministry said in a statement.

There are concerns that the closure of Gaza's main commercial trade route will cause serious humanitarian problems in Gaza, where more than 2 million people have been under blockade for 14 years.

Israel announced that it had closed off the Erez or Beit Hanoun border crossing in the northern Gaza until further notice.

READ MORE: Israel does not spare Gaza from strikes, even in Ramadan

Turkish FM continues diplomacy on Jerusalem

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister on Tuesday continued his intensive diplomatic contacts amid ongoing violence by Israel against Palestinians.

Mevlut Cavusoglu held separate phone calls with his Jordanian and Egyptian counterparts on the latest developments in Palestine.

During the talks, Cavusoglu discussed steps to be taken in the international arena against Israeli aggression, said the sources.

He is currently on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he said on Twitter he would discuss "bilateral relations and important regional issues, especially the attacks at the Al Aqsa Mosque and the oppression against the Palestinian people."

Cavusoglu held several phone calls on Monday with his Moroccan, Iranian, Algerian, Pakistani, Russian, Palestinian and Tunisian counterparts, as well as the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, after the Israeli attacks on Palestinians and the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies