Latest Israeli airstrikes in Gaza the worst so far
The building housing the offices of The Associated Press and other media in Gaza City collapses after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike Saturday, May 15, 2021. The building also housed Al-Jazeera and a number of offices and apartments. There was no immediate explanation for why the building was targeted. | Hatem Moussa / AP

The Israeli military, determined to inflict maximum destruction in Gaza ahead of any possible ceasefire agreement, launched the heaviest barrage of airstrikes on civilian areas yet early this morning.

The Netanyahu regime ignored calls by country after country around the world urging Israel to stop its attacks and, in fact, seemed to be intensifying the bombings in anticipation of possibly being politically forced into a ceasefire. The Israeli military said the purpose of the latest attacks was to destroy 15 kilometers of Hamas tunnels and the homes, not of the civilians killed, but of Hamas leaders.

Despite these claims, the AP reported that, after taking into account the deaths this morning, hundreds of civilians have been killed during the last week alone.

People asleep, or trying to sleep in Gaza, were roused by intense airstrikes in the dark hours of early morning today. The attacks were described by residents as far worse than those a day earlier that left at least 42 dead and three high-rise apartment buildings completely destroyed.

Gaza’s mayor, Yahya Sarraj, told Aljazeera television that the strikes had caused extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure. “If the aggression continues, we expect conditions to become worse,” he told Aljazeera.

The U.N. has warned Israel that the only power plant in Gaza is running out of fuel. As it stands now, electricity in Gaza is shut off completely every day for as long as 12 hours. In addition, the damage to the power plants has resulted in tap water that is poisoned and undrinkable because treatment facilities don’t have the energy to function properly. The U.N. has warned that in two days there may be no electricity available at all.

There are reports that rescue operations and people carrying emergency food and water to bombing victims have been unable to get to them because they are being shelled by the Israeli military.

In Israel itself, there are calls by Israeli citizens who oppose the carnage for a general strike to protest the war being carried out by the Netanyahu government.

Despite efforts to achieve a ceasefire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel’s attacks were continuing at “full-force” and would “take time.” Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” on the Hamas militant group, he said.

Corrupt Arab dictators in the region have contributed in their own way to the current human rights disaster. Among them is Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Until today, Sisi, who is often viewed as being in the same right-wing political camp as Netanyahu, has remained silent. Today, however, he claimed he is working to “urgently” end the violence. He seemed to equate the actions of both sides in the conflict, however, calling for “both sides to halt their attacks.”

There seems to be widespread acceptance in both domestic policy circles in the U.S. and other major powers that a solution is going to require the Biden administration to step up its efforts to curb the excessive actions of the Israeli military.

Palestinians rescue a survivor from under the rubble of a destroyed residential building in Gaza City, Sunday, May 16, 2021. The Israeli airstrikes flattened three buildings and killed at least 26 people Sunday, medics said, making it the deadliest single attack since heavy fighting broke out nearly a week ago. | Khalil Hamra / AP

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan compared the treatment of Palestinians, including those who are Israeli citizens, by the Israeli government with the shooting of Black people by police in the U.S. She said the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. and the struggle for justice for Palestinians were similar fights.

One of the major triggers for the current conflict was the continued indiscriminate removal of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and their replacement by Israeli Jewish citizens.

Another parallel between the U.S. and Israel that many are also seeing is the similarity between the Netanyahu regime in Israel and the defeated Trump regime in the U.S. Both relied, or now rely, in Israel’s case, on appeals to the extremely racist right wing. Netanyahu in Israel has been described as “Trump on steroids.”

But the Biden administration has declined so far to publicly criticize Israel’s aggressive actions.

Claims by the Israeli military that it is aiming for Hamas militants when it bombs homes are doubted by residents of Gaza. They have told reporters that during the intense fighting Hamas leaders have gone underground and would almost certainly never be at home when planes arrive to bomb their buildings.

Among the buildings flattened by the Israeli military was one housing the Associated Press and other international press organizations. Sally Buzbee, the AP’s executive editor, has demanded an investigation of the attack.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People's World.

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