Israeli Jets Pound Gaza As Rocket Fire Resumes And Palestinians Hit Streets To Protest


Israeli warplanes continued to pound Gaza on Tuesday and rocket fire into Israel resumed after a brief lull, as Palestinian protesters hit the streets in cities across the West Bank and elsewhere.

Thousands gathered in various towns in the West Bank, including Ramallah and Hebron, on Tuesday after a number of Palestinian groups, including Hamas militants in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank, called for mass strikes.

"The first priority for the Palestinian political leadership now is to have Israel stop its crimes and massacres against our people in Gaza," Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee in Ramallah, told CNN on Tuesday.

Israel imposed a partial closure on the West Bank on Tuesday, an Israeli security source told CNN, with only men older than 45 and Palestinian construction workers with work permits allowed to enter Israel.

Israeli airstrikes continued through the night into Tuesday. The Israel Defense Forces said warplanes had struck nine rocket launch sites in Gaza on Tuesday in addition to targeting a tunnel system in northern Gaza, several residences of Hamas commanders and an anti-tank squad in Gaza City.

The Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health said 217 people, including 63 children, had been killed and 1,500 others injured in the current round of violence. More than 58,000 people are considered internally displaced, many of them finding shelter in dozens of schools, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Israel briefly allowed trucks carrying international aid into Gaza for the first time since the conflict began last week, but Israeli authorities halted the entrance of aid trucks in response to mortar fire at two border cross crossings.

Monday night and early Tuesday morning had brought a brief respite in southern Israel from militants' rockets. The Israel Defense Forces did not report any warning sirens overnight, the first time in a week Israel went a night without rocket fire from Gaza.

The attacks resumed later Tuesday, with one mortar killing two civilians at an agricultural packaging factory on the Israeli side of the Gaza border, bringing the total number of dead in Israel to 12 since violence erupted just over a week ago. Sirens also sounded once again Tuesday in Ashkelon and other towns, sending residents fleeing again into shelters.

Now into its second week, this is the deadliest Israeli-Palestinian confrontation since the two sides fought a war in 2014.

Speaking Tuesday following a visit to the Israeli air force base at Hatzerim, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said operations would continue "as necessary to restore peace to the citizens of Israel."

Referring to Israel's attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Netanyahu said: "I have no doubt that we took them back many years."

"I'm sure all our enemies around see what price we're charging for the aggression against us, and I'm sure they'll learn the lesson too," he added.

Around dawn, the IDF destroyed an office building near Gaza. An advance warning was given that the tower would be targeted, witnesses said, and there were no reports of casualties. Israel has not commented on the incident.

The destroyed building was among several pieces of infrastructure used by civilians that have been targeted by the IDF. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of "deliberately" operating near buildings like hospitals and schools, thereby endangering civilians who risk becoming human shields.