The Slatest

Israeli Airstrikes Kill at Least 42 in Gaza as U.N. Warns of “Uncontainable” Crisis

An excavator clears the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 16, 2021, following massive Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave.
An excavator clears the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza City’s Rimal residential district on May 16, 2021, following massive Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave. MAHMUD HAMS/Getty Images

Israeli airstrikes on several homes in Gaza City killed at least 42 people, including 10 children, early Sunday in what amounted to the deadliest single attack in the latest round of violence that began last week. There’s no end in sight to the violence as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the airstrikes would continue amid international calls for a ceasefire.

The Israeli military said the civilian casualties on Sunday were not intentional, claiming its airstrikes were targeting a tunnel system used by militants. But the homes came down when the tunnels collapsed. Hamas, which continued firing rockets into Israel, called it “pre-meditated killing.” At least 192 people, including 58 children, have been killed in Gaza since Monday, according to the Palestinian authorities. In Israel, 10 people have been killed, including two children.

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United Nations Secretary General António Guterres warned of the effects of the continuing violence. “The fighting risks dragging Israelis and Palestinians into a spiral of violence with devastating consequences for both communities and for the entire region,” Guterres told the UN Security Council. “It has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis and to further foster extremism, not only in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, but in the region as a whole.” The Security Council had its first public meeting about the conflict on Sunday but took no action amid warnings of an impending humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Israel seems to be in no rush to end the airstrikes for now. “We’ll do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet,” Netanyahu said on CBS’ Face the Nation. “We’re trying to degrade Hamas’ terrorist abilities and to degrade their will to do this again. So it’ll take some time. I hope it won’t take long, but it’s not immediate.” In a televised address, Sunday evening, Netanyahu said the country had international support. “We will continue to act, as much as is required, to restore peace and security to you, the citizens of Israel. It will take time,” Netanyahu said. “There is always pressure on us, but we are receiving support from the United States and from many other nations.”

Meanwhile, Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of the Associated Press, is calling for an independent investigation into the airstrike that destroyed the building in Gaza that housed the AP, Al-Jazeera and other media. Buzbee said Israel has not yet presented evidence to justify the attack that destroyed the 12-story building. The Israeli military said Hamas used the building and defended the airstrikes saying that it gave everyone a one-hour warning to evacuate. Israel has vowed to compile the evidence and present it to the United States.

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