Data from Israeli authorities and the Palestinian Health Ministry have revealed that Israel bombed the house of Hamas’ Gaza leader and obliterated a family’s home in Gaza as Hamas launched more than 100 rockets toward Israel on Sunday May 16, marking the deadliest day of the week-long conflict so far.
Two Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed at least 43 Palestinians — including eight children — and injured 50 others, most of whom were women and children early Sunday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. With the latest casualties, the death toll in Gaza has climbed to a total of 197, including at least 58 children and 34 women, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Since the beginning of the airstrikes on Gaza this week, at least 1,225 have been injured, with the number expected to rise, as paramedics continue to carry out search operations.
Israel’s military, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had bombed the house of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader since 2017, in southern Gaza’s Khan Yunis neighborhood early Sunday morning although the Israeli military later told local media that Sinwar had been unhurt in the airstrike.
Shocking photos of rescue operations by Palestinian medical and civil defense teams show a young girl with a bloodied head injury lifted from the wreckage by a team of paramedics.
The rescuers say they rescued five children from the bomb rubble on Sunday morning.
The IDF said in a Twitter post on Sunday that Hamas’ militant wing had fired 120 rockets between 7 p.m Saturday and 7 a.m. local time Sunday, of which 11 fell in Gaza. IDF spokesperson Zilberman added Sunday that they had targeted dozens of rocket launchers, with the ability to fire multiple rockets at a time.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz in his own tweet said that “Israel has no interest in escalation, but is ready for any scenario,”
While the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he will do “whatever it takes to restore order,” and that “it will take some time.”
Previously on Saturday, Netanyahu said it will “respond forcefully” in Gaza “until the security of our people is reinstated and restored,” and said the country is trying to avoid civilian casualties from its strikes.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Sunday also released photos allegedly showing Hamas rocket installations and tunnel entrances placed in close proximity to civilian infrastructure like hospitals and schools, claiming that “Hamas deliberately and systematically places military targets within the civilian population, exposing their citizens to danger.”
The recent conflict began at the start of last week, after Israel ordered evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem and restrictions at a popular meeting point near the Old City resulting in Hamas warning Israel to not go ahead with evicting the Palestinians from the neighborhood or face attacks.
Hamas then fired thousands of rockets towards Israel most of which were intercepted by Israel’s solid Iron Dome missile interceptors.
Israel retaliated, and the back and forth attacks have since escalated rapidly into one of the worst rounds of violence the area has seen since the 2014 Gaza War, which saw more than 2,200 Gazans killed during the fighting, approximately half of them civilians, including more than 550 children, according to a United Nations report.
Early Saturday May 16, a 5-month-old baby named Omar was the lone survivor in a house that was hit and destroyed in an Israeli airstrike hit in the al-Shati refugee camp, killing 10 members of the his family — including eight children, according to the infant’s father Mohammad Hadidi. At least 20 other Palestinians were wounded after several nearby houses were damaged in the Israeli airstrike, the Palestinian News Agency WAFA reported.
Also on Sunday, six Israeli Border Police officers were injured in Sheikh Jarrah after a car “hit and ran over” officers stationed at a police checkpoint, a police spokesperson said. The driver, a 42-year-old male, was “shot and killed,” according to Israeli emergency services.
While not claiming responsibility for the attack, Hamas’ military wing described the incident as a “heroic run-over operation” which they say was carried out by a young Palestinian man.
In a statement, UN Secretary General António Guterres said he was “dismayed” by the rising number of civilian casualties.
“The Secretary-General reminds all sides that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs,” the statement said.
The US has blocked previous UN Security Council efforts to meet, preferring direct diplomacy on the conflict rather than discussion in an international forum.