New Delhi: Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City flattened three buildings and killed at least 42 people Sunday, medics said, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled the fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza would continue despite international efforts to broker a cease-fire.
In a televised address, Netanyahu said Sunday evening the attacks were continuing at “full-force” and will “take time.“ Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” from Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, he said.
“Here’s the intelligence we had,” Netanyahu told CBS News. “An intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization (was) housed in that building that plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians.”
“So it is a perfectly legitimate target. I can tell you that we took every precaution to make sure that there were no civilian injuries, in fact, no deaths,” Netanyahu told the network’s show “Face the Nation.
The violence marked the worst fighting here since the devastating 2014 war in Gaza. The airstrikes on Sunday hit a busy downtown street of residential buildings and storefronts over the course of five minutes just after midnight, destroying two adjacent buildings and one about 50 yards (meters) down the road.
At one point, a rescuer shouted, “Can you hear me?” into a hole in the rubble. “Are you OK?” Minutes later, first responders pulled a survivor out and carried him off on an orange stretcher. The Gaza Health Ministry said 16 women and 10 children were among those killed, with more than 50 people wounded, and rescue efforts are still underway.
Earlier, the Israeli military said it destroyed the home of Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yahiyeh Sinwar, in a separate strike in the southern town of Khan Younis. It was the third such attack in the last two days on the homes of senior Hamas leaders, who have gone underground.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday pleaded for an immediate end to the outbreak of deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence, warning that the fighting could plunge the region into an “uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis.”
Guterres earlier said he was “deeply disturbed” by Israel’s strike on Saturday on the tower housing the media bureaus.
(With PTI and AFP inputs)