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Hamas fires 130 rockets at Tel Aviv after Israeli air strike fells a tower block

HAMAS says it has fired 130 rockets at Tel Aviv after an Israeli air strike levelled a tower block in Gaza.

This comes after Israel threatened the militant group with days of air strikes after a rocket attack on Jerusalem on Monday.

A huge column of smoke billows from an oil facility in the Israeli city of Ashkelon after rockets were fired by Hamas
A huge column of smoke billows from an oil facility in the Israeli city of Ashkelon after rockets were fired by Hamas
Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip
Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip
A tower block in Gaza is levelled by Israeli air strikes
A tower block in Gaza is levelled by Israeli air strikes
Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza City
Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza CityCredit: AFP
Israel will continue to pummel Hamas targets for days, reports say
Israel will continue to pummel Hamas targets for days, reports sayCredit: AFP
Smoke trails are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip
Smoke trails are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza StripCredit: Reuters
Hundreds of missiles have been fired in the last 24 hours from both sides
Hundreds of missiles have been fired in the last 24 hours from both sidesCredit: AFP
The brother of Palestinian boy Hussien Hamad cries during his funeral
The brother of Palestinian boy Hussien Hamad cries during his funeralCredit: Reuters

Hamas launched another offensive last night after a 13-storey residential block in the Gaza Strip collapsed yesterday following an Israeli air strike.

Video footage showed thick plumes of smoke rising from the tower, its upper storeys still intact until it collapsed to the ground.

The building houses an office that is used by the political leadership of Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

Residents of the tower and people living nearby had been warned to evacuate the area around an hour before the air strike, according to witnesses.

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

The escalation in violence follows a decision by Israeli cops to storm a compound at the al-Aqsa mosque yesterday.

According to Channel 12 in Israel, Palestinian officials have reached out to their Jewish counterparts in a bid to agree a ceasefire.

Yet, the report says Israel has refused with officials saying Hamas has not paid a sufficient price for the rocket attacks.

And the Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that strikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza were “just the beginning” following a similar statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In response, Hamas officials say the group is “ready” if Israel wants to continue the fire fight.

Donald Trump accused successor Joe Biden of “weakness” and lack of support for the Jewish state.

“Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies,” he said in a statement.

Hailing his own administration as “the Peace Presidency,” Trump said Israel’s adversaries knew there would be “swift retribution if Israel was attacked” when he was the US president.

He said: “America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks, and make clear that the US will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself.”

What triggered the violence?

Clashes erupted on Friday as Muslims packed the Al-Aqsa mosque to pray during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Violence had been building in the Holy City and occupied West Bank for the previous week.

Palestinians hurled stones, bottles and fireworks at Israeli police who fire rubber bullets and stun grenades. The site is sacred to Jews as the location of two biblical-era temples.

More than 220 people, mostly Palestinians, were wounded.

On Saturday, prayers at the mosque compound are held peacefully but violence flares elsewhere in east Jerusalem.

Some 121 Palestinians are wounded overnight, many hit by rubber bullets and stun grenades, the Palestinian Red Crescent says.

Israeli police say 17 of its officers are wounded.

Much of the recent unrest stems from the long-running legal effort by Jewish settler groups to evict several Palestinian families from their homes in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

A lower court ruling earlier this year backing the settlers’ decades-old claim infuriated Palestinians.

A Supreme Court hearing on a Palestinian appeal had been set for Monday and risked inflaming tensions further.

On Sunday, the justice ministry delays the hearing in light of “the circumstances”.

Scuffles between Palestinians and Israeli police in east Jerusalem continue overnight into Sunday.

In the evening, Israeli police again face off against mostly young Palestinians at several locations in east Jerusalem.

Some 331 Palestinians are wounded, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, in renewed clashes between Palestinians and police at the mosque on Monday ahead of a planned march to commemorate Israel’s capture of Jerusalem in 1967.

The Biden administration on Tuesday called for calm and restraint by Israel and the Palestinians, and urged both sides to avoid “deeply lamentable” civilian deaths.

But “Israel does have a right to defend itself,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

The Israeli military says 630 missiles were fired from Gaza yesterday with 150 failing to reach Israeli territory.

Some 200 missiles were intercepted by Tel Aviv’s Iron Dome defence system which destroys rockets which are fired towards populated areas.

Israel had sent 80 jets to bomb Gaza and massed tanks on the border as rocket barrages hit Israeli towns for a second day, deepening a conflict in which at least 28 people in the Palestinian enclave.

Two people in Israel have also lost their lives.

Cars destroyed by rockets are seen in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv
Cars destroyed by rockets are seen in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv
Israel's Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepts rockets
Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepts rocketsCredit: AFP
A woman holds her dog as she is evacuated after a rocket hit a shopping complex in Ashkelon, southern Israel
A woman holds her dog as she is evacuated after a rocket hit a shopping complex in Ashkelon, southern IsraelCredit: Reuters
An Israeli firefighter extinguishes a burning vehicle after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip
An Israeli firefighter extinguishes a burning vehicle after a rocket launched from the Gaza StripCredit: AFP
A residential block in Gaza is destroyed by Israeli missiles
A residential block in Gaza is destroyed by Israeli missiles
Rubble on the streets of Gaza in the aftermath of an Israeli strike
Rubble on the streets of Gaza in the aftermath of an Israeli strikeCredit: AFP
Smoke billows following Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gaza region of Khan Yunis
Smoke billows following Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gaza region of Khan YunisCredit: AFP
A damaged house in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon
A damaged house in the southern Israeli city of AshkelonCredit: AFP
Palestinians mourners carry the bodies of Ameera Soboh and her son, Abed Soboh who were killed in the air strikes
Palestinians mourners carry the bodies of Ameera Soboh and her son, Abed Soboh who were killed in the air strikesCredit: EPA

The holy city of Jerusalem has been tense during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with the threat of a court ruling evicting Palestinians from homes claimed by Jewish settlers adding to the friction.

PM Netanyahu said Israel would step up its strikes on Gaza, an enclave of two million people, in response to the rocket attacks.

“Both the strength of the attacks and the frequency of the attacks will be increased,” he said in a statement.

Within an hour, Israel said it had deployed 80 jets to bomb rocket launch sites in and around Gaza City.

Plumes of smoke rose from densely populated residential areas.

Officials said infantry and armour were being dispatched to reinforce the tanks already gathered on the border, evoking memories of the last Israeli ground incursion into Gaza to stop rocket attacks, in 2014.

More than 2,100 Gazans were killed in the seven-week war that followed, according to the Gaza health ministry, along with 73 Israelis, and thousands of homes in the area were destroyed.

Yesterday, before the block collapsed, the Gaza health ministry said at least 28 Palestinians, including 10 children, had been killed and 152 wounded by Israeli strikes since Hamas on Monday fired rockets towards Jerusalem for the first time since 2014.

Israel’s national ambulance service said two women had been killed in rocket strikes on the southern city of Ashkelon.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) urged all sides to step back and reminded them of the requirement in international law to try to avoid civilian casualties.

An explosion lights up the sky in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip
An explosion lights up the sky in Rafah, in the southern Gaza StripCredit: AFP
Violence erupted after Israeli cops stormed a mosque
Violence erupted after Israeli cops stormed a mosqueCredit: Getty
The site of an Israeli air strike amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence
The site of an Israeli air strike amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violenceCredit: Reuters
People demonstrate outside the Israel Consulate in Istanbul against Israel's deadly air strikes launched on Gaza
People demonstrate outside the Israel Consulate in Istanbul against Israel’s deadly air strikes launched on GazaCredit: AFP
The rooftop of a building is seen destroyed following an Israeli airstrike at al-Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City
The rooftop of a building is seen destroyed following an Israeli airstrike at al-Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza CityCredit: AFP
Rockets fired from Gaza fly towards Israel
Rockets fired from Gaza fly towards IsraelCredit: EPA

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