< Fighting between Israelis, Palestinians in Gaza Intensifies
By Jonathan Evans
12 May 2021

Hundreds of rockets flew out of Gaza, and Israel hit the territory with airstrikes Wednesday, leaving more than 50 people dead. The fighting is the most severe outbreak of violence since a 50-day conflict in 2014.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported at least 53 Palestinian deaths in Gaza. More than 320 people have been wounded, including women and children. Six Israelis were killed by rockets and many more were wounded.

In Israel, hundreds of rockets fired by Gaza's Hamas rulers and other militants at times overwhelmed missile defense systems. Air raid warnings and explosions could be heard across Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

Palestinian citizens in Israel have voiced support for those living in the territories. They are against Israel's reaction to unrest in Jerusalem and its current operations in Gaza.

Several mixed Jewish-Arab Israeli cities have seen increased violence, including the burning of a Jewish-owned restaurant and a Jewish religious center. An Arab man was fatally shot, and there have been attacks on Arab-owned cars. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday ordered border guards deployed to help police keep order.

There was no sign that either side is willing to pull back. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to expand the offensive, saying "this will take time." Hamas has called for an intifada, or uprising. The last such uprising began in 2000 and lasted more than five years.

Rockets are launched towards Israel from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Rockets are launched towards Israel from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The latest violence began about one month ago in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The threatened removal of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers set off protests and clashes with police.

Israel has struck hundreds of targets in the Gaza Strip after Hamas militants started firing rockets into the country late Monday. Hamas took control of Gaza and its 2 million Palestinians in 2007.

The fiercest attack was a set of airstrikes that brought down a large building. The 12-floor building housed important Hamas offices, as well as some businesses. Israel fired a series of warning shots before destroying the building.

Israeli aircraft heavily damaged another Gaza City building early Wednesday. Israel said the nine-floor building housed Hamas intelligence offices and the group's command responsible for planning attacks in the West Bank. It also had residential apartments, medical companies and a dentist's office.

Israeli aircraft struck the building again after reporters and rescuers had gathered there. There was no immediate report of casualties.

Soon after, Hamas fired 100 rockets at the Israeli town of Beersheba.

One strike hit a taxi in Gaza City, killing a man, woman and driver inside. A second strike killed two men nearby on the street, witnesses who brought the bodies to a hospital told the Associated Press.

In the Israeli city of Lod, a 52-year-old Arab-Israeli man and his 16-year-old daughter were killed early Wednesday when a rocket from Gaza hit part of their home.

The Jerusalem unrest and conflict come at a time when the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has broken down.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamic militant group seized power in Gaza from the Palestinian Authority. Diplomats are again seeking to calm tensions. Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations are working toward a cease-fire.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Fares Akram and Joseph Krauss reported on this story for the Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.


Words in This Story

overwhelmed --adj. to cause someone to have too much to deal with; affected by too many things

dentist –n. a professional who cares for people's teeth

taxi –n. a car that carries passengers to a place for an amount of money based on the distance traveled

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