Gaza City (Gaza Strip): Israel reportedly killed a string of senior Hamas military figures on Wednesday and pounded three multistorey towers as it hammered the Gaza Strip with airstrikes while Hamas fired rocket barrages.
Dozens have died in the worst violence since a 2014 war, with no resolution in sight.
The fighting has taken on many hallmarks of that devastating 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas, but with a startling new factor: a burst of fury from Israel's Palestinian citizens in support of those living in the territories as well as counter-violence by Jewish Israelis.
In response, Israel deployed border guards in two mixed Arab-Jewish cities that saw unrest in previous days, including the burning of a Jewish-owned restaurant and a synagogue, the fatal shooting of an Arab man and attacks on Arab-owned cars.
It was a rare use of the paramilitary force, which normally puts down protests by Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Palls of grey smoke rose in Gaza, as Israeli airstrikes struck apartment towers and blasted multiple Hamas security installations.
In Israel, hundreds of rockets fired by Gaza's Hamas rulers and other militants at times overwhelmed missile defences and sent air-raid sirens and explosions echoing across Tel Aviv, Israel's biggest metropolitan area, and other cities.
The death toll in Gaza rose to 65 Palestinians, including 16 children and five women, according to the Health Ministry. At least 365 have been wounded, including 86 children and 39 women.
Seven have been killed on the Israeli side by rocket fire, including the first death of an Israeli soldier in this round of conflict.
The other deaths have been civilians, including three women and two children, one of them a 6-year-old killed in a rocket strike on an apartment building in the city of Sderot. Dozens in Israel have reportedly been wounded.
Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven members, and Hamas confirmed the death of a top commander and an unspecific number of others.
The Israeli military claimed at least 30 Palestinians killed so far were militants.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to expand the offensive, saying it “will take time.” Hamas has called for a full-scale intifada, or uprising. The last such uprising began in 2000 and lasted more than five years.
The latest eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed police tactics during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers ignited protests. A focal point was the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site sacred to Jews and Muslims.
Israel has struck 350 targets and killed at least 30 militants since Monday night, 14 of them on Wednesday, Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.
In one of the fiercest attacks, Israeli fighter jets dropped two bombs on a 14-storey building in Gaza City, collapsing it. The building, located on the busiest shopping street in the Roman neighbourhood, housed businesses in addition to offices for Hamas' Al-Aqsa satellite channel.
Airstrikes also brought down a 12-storey office building that housed Hamas offices as well as other businesses, and heavily damaged a nine-story building with residential apartments, medical companies, a dental clinic and, Israel said, Hamas intelligence offices.
Soon after, Hamas fired 100 rockets at the Israeli desert town of Beersheba in what it said was retaliation.
Samah Haboub, a mother of four in Gaza, said she was thrown across her bedroom in a “moment of horror” by an airstrike on an apartment tower next door. She and her children, ages 3 to 14, ran down the stairway of their apartment block along with other residents, many of them screaming and crying.
“There is almost no safe place in Gaza,” she said.
One strike hit a taxi in Gaza City, killing a man, woman and driver insider, and a second strike killed two men nearby on the street, witnesses who brought the bodies told The Associated Press at the hospital. Several other bystanders were wounded.
In the Israeli city of Lod, a 52-year-old Arab Israeli citizen and his 16-year-old daughter were killed when a rocket from Gaza hit the courtyard of their home. An Israeli soldier was killed in a strike by an anti-tank missile from Gaza.
We Stand with Gaza, With Palestine: Pak PM Imran Khan
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed solidarity with Palestine on Wednesday, as tensions escalated between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, leading to the death of scores, reports PTI.
"I am PM of Pakistan and #WeStandWithGaza #WeStandWithPalestine," Khan posted on micro-blogging website Twitter.
He also carried a critical quote of American anti-imperialism intellectual Noam Chomsky on Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
"You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back," according to the quote.
Khan has earlier condemned the Israeli attack on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque and has urged the international community to take immediate action to protect Palestinians.