Why is Israel bombing Gaza?

Gaza: Israeli forces carry out air attack on strip

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The conflict between Israel and Palestine has imploded over the past week in the long-standing hostility between the sides. Attacks on Gaza have escalated in recent days, with fighter jets from Israel having mainly targeted Gaza City and areas to the north.

Israeli forces have destroyed entire tower blocks, killing and displacing Palestinian civilians.

While Hamas militants have retaliated by firing rockets back as the violence continued for a fifth night yesterday.

Since the offensive began late on Monday, Gaza’s health ministry says at least 84 people have been killed, including 17 children. It is estimated nearly 500 others have been wounded.

The violence is the worst seen in the area since 2014, culminating after weeks of rising tensions and clashes at a holy site revered by both Jews and Muslims.

Why is Israel bombing Gaza?

Anger has been escalating over the forced expulsion of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

These families have had multiple court cases filed against them by several pro-settler organisations since 1972.

They claim that land the families lived on was originally under Jewish ownership, but Palestinians see this as an extension of an official Israeli policy to displace as many Palestinians as possible from Jerusalem.

The United Nations has warned the expulsions could amount to “war crimes”.

Confrontations between Palestinians, Israeli settlers and the Israeli police have been taking place since the end of April as Israeli courts gave May 2 as the eviction date for families.

However, the court date has since been postponed twice.

At the homes of those being evicted, people gathered for Iftar meals – the breaking of the Ramadan fast – where confrontations broke out.

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Elsewhere, tens of thousands of Muslims gathered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the final Friday of Ramadan, where police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at protestors who stayed on after the worshipping to protest against the evictions.

Some 205 Palestinians and 17 Israeli officers were wounded.

Another flash raid was conducted on the Mosque on Monday, with rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas fired at worshippers, where an additional 300 Palestinians were injured.

Hamas later announced it had given Israel an ultimatum to remove its security forces from the mosque and Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood by 6pm local time.

According to the Israeli military, on Tuesday morning Hamas fired 200 or so rockets toward Israel, with many intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.

Israeli attacks on the area killed 26 Palestinians on Tuesday.

Despite international calls for de-escalation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday “both the might of the attacks and the frequency of the attacks will be increased” on Gaza.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya told mediators the group is “ready” if Israel increases its attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, saying: “If they (Israel) want to escalate, the resistance is ready; and if they want to stop, the resistance is ready.”

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