Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin NetanyahuGideon Markowicz/JINI via Xinhua/IANS

Israel will pursue Hamas as long as necessary: Netanyahu

Tel Aviv, May 16, 2021

Hamas continued to attack Israel with rockets on Sunday and the Israeli army struck back with force as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to pursue the Palestinian militant group for as long as necessary.

"Fire will be met with fire," Netanyahu said in a video address late Saturday night.

"This (military) operation will continue as long as it takes until we achieve our goals and bring peace and security to all Israeli citizens," the Jerusalem Post quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

Israel's security cabinet is set to meet on Sunday, dpa news agency quoted the Jerusalem Post as saying.

Rockets fired by militant Palestinians continued to rain on Israeli cities on Saturday, while warning sirens wailed in the desert city of Beersheba and in border areas near Gaza, the Army said.

Alarms also went off several times in Tel Aviv, with the latest alarm triggered in the Israeli coastal metropolis late Saturday.

At least one person was killed in a rocket attack on the greater Tel Aviv area on Saturday.

The Israeli Army attacked further targets on Palestinian territory, including rocket launchers and two combat units belonging to the Hamas movement.

The air force destroyed a high-rise in the Gaza Strip that housed the offices of several media organizations, the military said.

The military said the building also contained "military assets" belonging to the Hamas movement, adding it had warned civilians ahead of the strike and left them time to evacuate.

"This is an incredibly disturbing development," Associated Press (AP) chief Gary Pruitt said in New York.

"We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life."

The news agency had been informed in advance of the airstrike on the high-rise, he said.

A dozen AP journalists and freelancers were pulled to safety in time, he added.

Pruitt said he was "shocked and horrified" that the Israeli military destroyed a building with media offices. He said the world would now know less about what is happening in Gaza.

Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera said it too had its office in the high-rise.

After the attack, the fifth high-rise destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the current conflict, a spokesperson for Hamas said Tel Aviv should prepare for an "answer that will shake the earth".

The Israeli army said it had targeted the house of Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, and other ranking officials.

According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, about 145 Palestinians have been killed and 1,100 injured since fighting escalated on Monday.

According to the Magen David Adom rescue service, 10 people were killed and 636 injured in Israel as a result of the rocket fire over the past few days.

Palestinian militants have been continuously firing rockets at Israel since tensions first flared up on May 10.

More than 2,300 have been fired, according to Israel's Army, although about 20 per cent go down over Gaza without reaching Israeli territory.

Israel has responded with airstrikes and artillery shelling, striking more than 650 targets, according to an officer.

Civil unrest has also been mounting between in Israel's Jewish and Arab populations, with protests and riots reported.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, at least nine people died in clashes in the West Bank and 21 were severely injured.

Rising tension first came to a head during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with clashes at a Jerusalem holy site as well as over the forced evictions of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.


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