Israel Gaza conflict: Air strike targets Hamas leader

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The Israeli military says it has bombed the home of the political leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in a wave of air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

It released video of an exploding bomb which it said had hit the home of Yahya Sinwar, the group’s overall leader in the territory.

Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed at least 26 people early on Sunday, officials there said.

Militants fired more rockets at Israel, sending people fleeing for shelter.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “continue to respond forcefully” to rocket attacks, amid calls from the international community to end the escalating conflict.

A UN Security Council meeting is set to take place later on Sunday.

The Israel-Palestinian conflict explained
Thousands protest in London over Gaza violence
US President Joe Biden phoned Mr Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to express concern about the situation on Saturday.

Since the fighting began on Monday at least 174 people have been killed in Gaza, including 47 children and 29 women, with 1,200 injured, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry. Israel says dozens of militants are among the dead.

Ten people, including two children, have been killed by militant attacks on Israel, Israeli officials say.

The flare-up of violence over the last six days came after weeks of increasing Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem, which culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas – the Palestinian militant group that runs Gaza – began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.

How heavy were the overnight bombardments?
Israel’s military said it had struck the homes of both Yahya Sinwar and his brother Muhammad Sinwar, whom it described as head of logistics and manpower for Hamas.

Both residences had, it said, “served as military infrastructure” for Hamas.

Local sources confirmed for media that the Hamas leader’s home had been bombed. There were no immediate reports about the fate of the two brothers.

Multiple air strikes rocked Gaza City during the night, with dozens of people reported missing under the rubble of homes, the BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf said.

“I have never covered air strikes with such intensity, explosions are everywhere in Gaza, there are difficulties in communicating with officials to find out where the strikes are,” he said on Twitter.

Mothers fear for their children
What is Hamas?
How Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield works
“The building in which I live in [the] western part of the city shook like an earthquake,” he said. “A hysterical state of chaos, children and women in the building that houses more than 200 people screaming.”

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, 26 people were killed and 50 injured on al-Wehda Street in central Gaza City overnight, with eight children and 10 women among the dead. Searches beneath the rubble continued.

Some 120 rockets were launched by militants in Gaza against southern and central Israel overnight, the Israeli military said. There were no reports of serious injuries.

What are the prospects for a ceasefire?
Blaming the militants for the conflict. Mr Netanyahu said strikes would continue for “as long as necessary” and everything possible was being done to limit civilian casualties.

On Saturday, the Israeli military blew up a tower block in Gaza City used by international media after issuing warnings to evacuate it.

media captionA Gaza tower block housing news outlets was destroyed in an Israeli strike on Saturday
President Biden told Mr Netanyahu he continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself. He expressed concern over deaths on both sides and called for journalists to be protected.

Speaking to President Abbas, the US leader said he was committed to “strengthening the US-Palestinian partnership”. He also said the Hamas rocket fire into Israel had to stop.

Map showing Israel and the Gaza Strip
Presentational white space
President Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank, has little power in Gaza but the US will not speak to Hamas, which it regards as a terrorist organisation.

Mr Biden told both leaders he remained committed to finding a two-state solution to the conflict.

A major foreign policy headache for Biden
US envoy Hady Amr is in Tel Aviv to take part in talks with Israeli, Palestinian and UN officials, and reinforce what US diplomats said was the need for a “sustainable calm”.

Ahead of the Security Council meeting, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reminded all sides “that any indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures violates international law and must be avoided at all costs”.

Pro-Palestinian protests were held across the world on Saturday, from Europe to the Americas. In central Paris, police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse an illegal demonstration while in London, nine police officers were hurt during clashes with protesters outside the Israeli embassy.

Thousands protest in London over Gaza violence
Timeline: How the violence escalated
The worst violence in years between Israel and the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip has seen dozens killed. It follows a month of spiralling tensions before open conflict broke out. Here is what happened in the lead-up to the fighting.

Israeli police officers detain a young Palestinian man at the Damascus Gate
Image captionIsraeli police officers detain a young Palestinian man at the Damascus Gate.
Clashes erupt in East Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli police.

Palestinians are angry over barriers which had been placed outside the Damascus Gate entrance to the Jerusalem‘s Old City preventing them from gathering there after prayers at the Old City’s al-Aqsa Mosque on what is the first night of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Palestinian discontent had been stoked earlier in the day when President Mahmoud Abbas called off planned elections, implicitly blaming Israel over voting arrangements for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

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