Videos show Israeli airstrikes leveling multiple Gaza apartment buildings amid escalating violence
- Israeli airstrikes have leveled multiple residential buildings in Gaza, videos show.
- Israel said that Hamas used the buildings.
- Critics have questioned whether targeting large buildings violates international law.
The Israeli military leveled multiple apartment buildings in Gaza with airstrikes this week amid escalating violence that's killed dozens of Palestinians, marking the worst fighting in the region since the 50-day war in 2014.
Israel has said it's targeting buildings where Hamas - the militant group that controls Gaza - stores weapons or has offices. Civilians were warned to evacuate before the strikes, the Israeli military said on Wednesday.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday said hundreds of strikes had already been carried out and that "buildings will continue to crumble," Reuters reported.
Gantz on Wednesday signaled the air campaign was poised to escalate.
"The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce," Gantz said.
Videos shared on social media showed the buildings collapsing as a result of the Israeli strikes.
-Arwa Ibrahim (@arwaib) May 12, 2021
-Reuters (@Reuters) May 11, 2021
-The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) May 12, 2021
-Reuters (@Reuters) May 12, 2021
-Liz Sly (@LizSly) May 12, 2021
-Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 12, 2021
'How is it proportionate for an Israeli air strike to destroy the entire building?'
This week's actions have renewed criticism of Israel over the targeting of large buildings, raising questions about proportionality and respect for human rights.
B'Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, in a tweet said, "Bombing apartment towers, which are not a military target and leaving dozens of families homeless, is a war crime."
"Even assuming, as the Israeli government claims, that a 13-storey residential tower in Gaza housed 'an office that is used by the political leadership' of Hamas, how is it proportionate for an Israeli air strike to destroy the entire building?" said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
-Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) May 12, 2021
-Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) May 12, 2021
'This is just the beginning'
At least 65 Palestinians, including 16 children, have been killed since the airstrikes began Monday, according to the Gaza's health ministry.
Rockets fired at Israel from Gaza have killed at least six people, including a soldier and child.
A senior Hamas commander was among those killed in the strikes thus far.
"This is just the beginning," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the strike that killed the Hamas commander. "We'll hit them like they've never dreamed possible," he added.
Meanwhile, the UN on Wednesday issued a warning that the ongoing conflict has the potential to escalate into a "full-scale war."
As the Israeli military pummeled Gaza with airstrikes, over 1,000 rockets were fired by militants at Israel, though officials said 85% to 90% were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system, per NBC News.
The latest rash of violence in the region is linked to both historic and current factors. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and general treatment of Palestinians, including the economically devastating blockade on Gaza, remains at the center of the tensions. Top human rights groups have increasingly condemned Israel's treatment of Palestine as a form of apartheid.
The planned evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem has been the more recent catalyst for the violence, among other incidents such as an Israeli police raid on an important Muslim holy site that injured hundreds on Monday.
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