Gaza aid hampered by border fire; two Thai workers killed in Israel

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A Palestinian firefighter puts out a fire that broke out on a house after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, May 16, 2021. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip since Monday reached 188, including 55 children and 33 women, in addition to more than 1,000 injuries. (Photo by Yasser Qudih/Xinhua)
A Palestinian firefighter puts out a fire that broke out on a house after an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, May 16, 2021. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip since Monday reached 188, including 55 children and 33 women, in addition to more than 1,000 injuries. (Photo by Yasser Qudih/Xinhua)

Aid delivery to Gaza was suspended following attacks on two border crossings on Tuesday, as the exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza continued and further lives were lost, including two foreign workers from Thailand.

Kerem Schalom and Erez, two border crossings into impoverished Gaza, had been temporarily opened from 11 am to 5 pm to allow the delivery of aid, including medical equipment and fuel tanks donated by international organizations, according to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

But a mortar bomb hit the Erez Crossing and mortars were fired towards the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the statement said.

A soldier in the Israeli Defence Force was slightly injured and was taken to hospital for medical treatment. “Following that, it has been decided to stop the entry of the rest of the trucks,” the statement said.

The bombing came as militants in Gaza resumed firing more rockets towards Israel on Tuesday at midday, after six hours of calm.

Two Thai nationals in Israel were killed when rockets landed in the Eshkol border region, according to an Israeli police spokesperson.

One person was seriously injured and five more were slightly injured in the attack that hit a residence housing foreign workers.

According to the Israeli military, more than 3,300 rockets have been fired at Israel so far.

The homes of 12 senior commanders of Hamas, the organization ruling Gaza, have been attacked in the past 24 hours, Israel’s army said.

The massive strikes have set Hamas back by years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a visit to an air base.

“We will continue as long as necessary to bring peace back to the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu added, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, an armed Palestinian man was killed after he attempted an attack.

The man was armed with an explosive, a “Carlo”-style gun and a knife, and tried to attack soldiers in Hebron, the army said. The soldiers fired at the man. He was killed, said the Palestinian Health Ministry.

As Israel continued to respond with airstrikes, thousands in Ramallah, the rest of the West Bank and Israel turned out to protest.

In Ramallah, thousands of Palestinians attended a rally, many holding Palestinian flags and signs of protest.

“Bombing children is not self-defence,” one sign read.

Several hundred of them then headed to an Israeli military barricade, but witnesses said they retreated after soldiers used tear gas.

At a checkpoint near Ramallah, Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers did exchange fire, leaving one person dead and several dozen injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

It was the first time in the week-long fighting between Gaza and Israel that Palestinian militants used firearms in the West Bank.

Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank also staged labour strikes in protest. Arab Israelis were also demonstrating against the actions taken by Israeli security forces against Muslim worshippers at the Jerusalem holy site known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, as well as about forced evictions in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

There were calls for rallies and a “Day of Rage” in the West Bank.

At the Lebanese border, Israeli troops also fired tear gas and smoke grenades at stone-throwing protesters, leaving five wounded.

Tensions escalated in the Adyisseh area, where protesters carrying Hezbollah and Palestinian flags in solidarity with Gaza started to climb the concrete border fence and throw stones on the Israeli side and at an Israeli tank, the National News Agency (NNA) said.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said 213 people had died since the conflict began more than a week ago. In Israel, 12 people have died.

Leaders abroad continued to call for peace.

The UN Security Council plans to tackle the topic again on Tuesday after three largely inconclusive special meetings last week.

French President Emmanuel Macron conducted talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday, French officials said, in an effort to bring about a ceasefire.

The Egyptian leader said the cycle of violence in the Middle East must be broken, while also pledging 500 million dollars to the Palestinians for reconstruction in Gaza, according to the presidential office in Cairo.

Al-Sissi is in Paris for a conference on Africa. The three leaders talked by videoconference.

Macron had said after a meeting with al-Sissi on Monday that he supports Egyptian attempts to mediate and stop the bloodshed.

“We are engaged in quiet but very intensive diplomacy in an effort to de-escalate, end the violence and then hopefully move on to build something more positive in its wake,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

US President Joe Biden had earlier expressed support for a ceasefire in a phone call with Netanyahu.

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