Smoke rises from a residential area in Gaza after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike (Image credit: NDTV)

36 Palestinians, 5 Israelis die as fighting spreads to Gaza

In the latest round of hostilities between Israel and Gaza, 36 Palestinians including 13 children and 5 Israelis were killed in violence. More than 1000 Palestinians and 17 Israelis were also injured in the latest round of escalation in the region which started last Friday when Palestinians of East Jerusalem clashed with Israeli police in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Hundreds of people were injured in four days of violence in Old City and Sheikh Jarrah. The situation deteriorated further in occupied East Jerusalem on May 9-10 when the Israelis were observing Jerusalem Day. On May 10, Israeli police stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque causing lot of injuries to Palestinians. Jerusalem Day is observed as Israeli national holiday as on this very day in the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli Defence Forces captured the Old City. West Jerusalem was already under occupation of Israel since its creation on May 14, 1948.

However, tensions in Gaza started on Tuesday after Israel alleged that Hamas fired rockets on Tel Aviv and Ashkelon. The massive Israeli air-strike on civilian targets also hit a 13-storey building leading to heavy casualties. This is the first time after 2014 that the situation has reached to such a pass.

Hamas claimed to have fired 200 rockets deep into Israel. Though the Israelis managed to intercept many of them, some of the rockets fell on Tel Aviv and Ashkelon. While one rocket fell on a bus, another hit an oil-pipeline in Ashkelon leading to a blaze.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Hamas that it would pay a heavy price for the rocket attacks.

Actually, the tension started a month earlier when Israel tried to evict Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to settle the Jewish population. This issue was to be heard by the Israeli Supreme Court on May 10. But it was put off after a plea by Israeli attorney general following the clashes in East Jerusalem. The European Union has called for an immediate halt to the Israeli aggression against Palestinians. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rang up his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi urging him to stop violence.

Tension is likely to increase in the region as Israel is going to celebrate the creation of the Jewish state on May 14.

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