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Israel-Gaza live: More than 52,000 Palestinians ‘displaced by airstrikes’ as Biden shows support for ceasefire

Harrowing footage shows Palestinian father’s final moments before he is killed in Israeli air strikes.mp4

More than 52,000 Palestinians have been displaced by Israeli airstrikes, the United Nations aid agency said on Tuesday.

About 47,000 of the people displaced people have sought shelter in 58 UN-run schools in Gaza, Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters, according to Reuters.

It comes as the Israeli army unleashed a fresh wave of airstrikes on Gaza overnight.

Israel’s army said it was once again targeting an underground “metro” system it says is being used by Hamas operatives to evade surveillance.

The residences of five Hamas commanders were also struck, with the Israeli military asserting that some of the homes had been used as command and control centres, while an anti-tank squad in Gaza City was also targeted.

On Monday, President Joe Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas rulers in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US leader stopped short of demanding an immediate end to the violence, but “expressed his support for a ceasefire” and “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” the White House said.

Mr Biden also renewed his “his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks,” a readout of the call said.

At least 213 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes so far, including 61 children, with more than 1,400 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, Israeli authorities have said.

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog tracking the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Israeli warplanes unleash heavy airstrikes on Gaza City in overnight assault

Israeli warplanes unleashed heavy airstrikes on Gaza City in overnight assault they said was aimed at destroying an underground tunnel system used by Hamas militants.

Dozens of Israeli warplanes launched a heavy bombardment of the blockaded strip just before 2am on Monday, the country’s army has said.

The army said it was once again targeting the “metro” - an underground tunnel system it has said militants are using to navigate without being tracked.

Civilians on the ground described as many as 50 airstrikes in just 10 minutes, while photos showed the night’s sky over Gaza city alight with fire.

The army said it hit a total of 35 targets, and 15km of the tunnel system.

Residents of Gaza city have said that several roads leading to the strip’s largest hospital Al-Shifa had been hit in the assault.

Witnesses also said security buildings and militant training camps had been attacked in and around Gaza City.

Militants in Gaza had continued to fire rockets at Israel up until the heavy bombardment.

The Israeli military has said that a total of 3,100 rockets have so far been fired at Israel from Gaza over the last seven days.

That number is just 900 short of the total number of rockets fired during the entirety of the 7-week 2014 Gaza war.

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Photos show Gaza City alight with fire after Israeli bombardment

Photos show Gaza City alight with fire early this morning after a major bombardment from Israeli warplanes.

Israel’s army has said it launched the assault in a bid to target an underground tunnel system used by Hamas militants.

Describing the tunnel system as a “city under a city”, the army said it destroyed 15km of the underground network and hit 35 targets.

In the photo below, fire and smoke can be seen rising above buildings in Gaza City, as warplanes take aim at the Palestinian enclave.

The assault began at around 2am, with civilians on the ground describing as many as 50 airstrikes in just 10 minutes.

Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli warplanes target the Palestinian enclave, early on 17 May, 2021.

Fire and smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli warplanes target the Palestinian enclave, early on 17 May, 2021.

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Netanyahu vows to continue campaign at ‘full force’

In the midst of international calls for calm, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the country’s campaign in Gaza at “full force”.

Speaking in a televised address after his security Cabinet met on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said the campaign would continue “for as long as necessary” until “calm and quiet” can be restored to Israel’s citizens.

“We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting with Israeli border police in the central city of Lod, near Tel Aviv, on 13 May, 2021. He has vowed to continue a ‘full force’ assault for ‘as long as necessary’.

Overnight, the Israeli army launched a fresh assault, raining airstrikes down on Gaza City in what it said was an effort to further target an underground tunnel system used by Hamas militants.

Before the airstrikes, the Gaza Health Ministry had said that at least 197 Palestinians, including 58 children, have been killed in the surge of violence that started last week.

Meanwhile, at least ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, according to Israeli authorities.

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‘If Israel does not want to stop, we will not stop,’ Hamas senior official says

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy leader of Hamas, warned on Sunday that if Israel “does not want to stop” its attacks on Gaza City, then “we will not stop”.

As international calls urged a cease-fire, Mr Abu Marzouk said: “If there will be one it will be reached with our conditions, not Israeli conditions.”

“If Israel does not want to stop, we will not stop,” he said.

Meanwhile, Eliezer Toledano, the general in charge of Israel’s Southern Command, told the broadcaster that it was “important” that the country “continue to exhaust the campaign that we have entered and deepen the damage being caused to Hamas”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also vowed to continue the campaign at “full force” for “as long as necessary”.

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Major damage after Israeli airstrikes, Gaza mayor says

Israel’s overnight airstrikes on Gaza City have caused major damage, Gaza’s mayor, Yahya Sarraj has said.

Speaking with Al-Jazeera TV, Mr Sarraj said the assault had caused serious damage to roads and other infrastructure.

“If the aggression continues we expect conditions to become worse,” he said.

He also warned that the territory was running low on fuel.

The United Nations has also sounded the alarm that Gaza’s only power station risks running out of fuel.

Already, the territory experiences regular power outages that can last hours, while the tap water is undrinkable.

Israel’s army has said it hit a total of 35 targets in the airstrikes and 15km of an underground tunnel system that it said it was targeting in the assault.

The army has said the tunnel system is used by Hamas operatives and is effectively a “city under a city”.

Additional reporting by PA

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Israeli army says more than 820 targets struck since 10 May

The Israeli army has said it has struck at least 820 targets since 10 May, when the surge of violence that has spilled into this week began.

Sharing an operational update on on Twitter, the army said it has struck at least 820 targets so far.

The military said at least 3,150 rockets have so far been fired at Israel, with the Iron Dome intercepting 90% of incoming attacks. It also said that 460 Hamas rockets have misfired.

The Israeli army also shared the death toll in Israel, with ten killed, including two children.

As of Sunday night, the Gaza Health Ministry had said that at least 197 Palestinians, including 58 children, had been killed in the surge of violence that started last week.

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London mayor says efforts being made to protect Jewish community amid anger over conflict

London mayor Sadiq Khan has that efforts are being made to protect the Jewish community amid grief and outrage over the past week’s violence.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Khan said he had been in contact with Metropolitan Police leadership and had agreed to see an increase police presence in Jewish communities, synagogues and schools.

The London mayor said the ramped up police presence was aimed at making residents feel safe.

However, he said he also wanted to send the message to “anybody who is involved in any race crimes that action will be taken”.

“It is possible at the same time to be very angry about what is happening in Israel and Gaza and the West Bank and be heartbroken at the death and to call for a ceasefire and a de-escalation,” he said.

“What is not excusable is on the other hand is to use that as an excuse to be anti-Semitic and to be racist. There can be no excuse for that.”

“It is important for us to realise the impact of this criminal behaviour has a ripple of fear effect on Jewish Londoners and those across the country,” he said.

It is really important that we don’t bring conflicts 3,000 miles away to the capital city,” Mr Khan added.

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Gaza on brink of running out of fuel

Gaza could run out of fuel to run its power station within two days, officials have warned.

If fuel does run out, homes and hospitals will go dark in the midst of the most intense fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 war.

The fighting has also damaged power lines to Israel, which Israeli media has said has cut more than 230,000 Gazans off from electricity.

Middle East correspondent Bel Trew has more:

Damaged power lines could see blackouts and water shortages, warn officials

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Protests held around the world in support of Palestinians

Protests in support of Palestinians were held in countries around the world over the weekend.

From the US to the UK and Spain to Indonesia, thousands joined marches and demonstrations against Israel’s airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

At least 197 Palestinians have been killed in the recent surge in fighting, including 58 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, Israeli officials have said.

People march through downtown protesting Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on May 16, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

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