49 killed in Gaza as Israel carries out hundreds of airstrikes

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Hamas says it fired 210 rockets towards Beersheba and Tel Aviv in response to the bombing of tower buildings in Gaza
Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza on Wednesday and Palestinian fighters fired multiple rocket barrages at Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba in the region’s most intense hostilities in years.
At least 49 people have been killed in Gaza since violence escalated on Monday, according to the enclave’s health ministry. Six people have been killed in Israel, medical officials said.
One multi-storey residential building in Gaza collapsed and another was heavily damaged after they were repeatedly hit by Israeli airstrikes.
Israel claimed its jets had targeted and killed several Hamas intelligence leaders early on Wednesday. Other strikes targeted what the military said were rocket launch sites, Hamas offices and the homes of Hamas leaders.
The heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in the Hamas-ruled enclave has increased international concern that the situation could spiral out of control.
“Israel has gone crazy,” said a man on a Gaza street, where people ran out of their homes as explosions rang out.
Smoke rises from a tower after it was hit by Israeli airstrikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Gaza City May 12, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS
UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take responsibility of de-escalation.
“The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,” he wrote.
Gazans homes shook and the sky lit up from Israeli attacks, outgoing rockets and Israeli air defence missiles intercepting them. At least 30 explosions were heard within a matter of minutes just after dawn on Wednesday.
Israelis ran for shelters or flattened themselves on pavements in communities more than 70 km (45 miles) up the coast and into southern Israel amid sounds of explosions as interceptor missiles streaked into the sky.
In Gaza, 11 people were killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday, the health ministry said.
In the mixed Arab-Jewish town of Lod, near Tel Aviv, two people were killed after a rocket hit a vehicle in the area. Lod and other mixed towns have been gripped by angry demonstrations over the Gaza violence and tensions in Jerusalem.
Hamas’s armed wing said it fired 210 rockets towards Beersheba and Tel Aviv in response to the bombing of the tower buildings in Gaza City. Israel’s military says that around a third of the rockets have fallen short, landing within Gaza.
For Israel, the groups targeting Tel Aviv, its commercial capital, posed a new challenge in the confrontation with Hamas.