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Rocket Attack on Tel Aviv: Claims Hamas

Rocket Attack on Tel Aviv: Claims Hamas

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NEW DELHI, May 26: For the first time in months, rocket sirens sounded across central Israel including in the capital city of Tel Aviv, on Sunday as Hamas claimed to have fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza.

The militants have continued to fire projectiles at communities around Gaza more than seven months into the war but have not fired longer-range rockets in months. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the latest barrage.

Earlier on Sunday, aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel through a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. But was unclear if humanitarian groups would be able to access the aid because of ongoing fighting in the area.

Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is handed back to Palestinians. It agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s main cargo terminal, after a call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

But that crossing has been largely inaccessible because of fighting linked to Israel’s offensive in the nearby city of Rafah. Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks to enter, but United Nations agencies say it is usually too dangerous to retrieve the aid on the other side.

The eight-month old war between Israel and Hamas has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials. Around 80% of the population’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and U.N. officials say parts of the territory were experiencing famine.

Hamas claimed to have captured an Israeli soldier during fighting in northern Gaza and released video late Saturday showing a wounded man being dragged through a tunnel. The Israeli military denied any of its soldiers had been captured, and Hamas did not provide any other evidence to substantiate its claim.

Egypt’s state-run television aired footage of what it said were trucks entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom. Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in the Sinai Peninsula, which handles the delivery of aid from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, said 200 aid trucks and four fuel trucks are scheduled to be sent to Kerem Shalom on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear if the U.N. was able to retrieve the aid from the Gaza side. Southern Gaza has been largely cut off from aid since Israel launched what it says is a limited incursion into Rafah on May 6. Since then, over 1 million Palestinians have fled the city, with most having already been displaced from other parts of the besieged territory.

A few dozen trucks have also been entering Gaza daily through a U.S.-built floating pier, but its capacity remains far below the 150 trucks a day that officials had hoped for. Aid groups say the territory needs a total of 600 trucks a day to meet colossal humanitarian needs.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah in order to eliminate Hamas’ last remaining battalions and achieve its goal of “total victory” over the militants, who have recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza where the military had already operated.

Netanyahu faces growing pressure from the Israeli public to make a deal with Hamas to free the remaining hostages, something Hamas has refused to do without guarantees for an end of the war and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have ruled that out.

Scuffles broke out between Israeli police and protesters in Tel Aviv on Saturday after thousands gathered to demonstrate against the government and demand the return of the hostages. The protesters called for Netanyahu’s resignation and demanded new elections.

International pressure is also growing, as the war leaves Israel increasingly isolated on the world stage.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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