No sign of ceasefire on Shavuot: Israel destroys 7-mile stretch of Hamas tunnel bunkers as fighting continues
(JTA) — Israel stepped up its strikes in the Gaza Strip again on Monday, destroying a seven-mile stretch of Hamas tunnel bunkers, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
IDF aircraft launched dozens of strikes on an underground tunnel complex known as the “Hamas metro,” which runs along the border with Israel and can be used to move men and equipment without detection.
Hamas continued to fire rockets at southern Israeli cities on Monday as well, making the prospect of a ceasefire dim throughout the Shavuot holiday, which continues through Tuesday.
The 60 rockets fired into Israel is a relatively small number compared to previous days, suggesting a possible diminishing ammunition supply. Hamas, labeled a militant terrorist organization by the U.S., has been firing in large barrages – a technique necessary to overwhelm and penetrate Israel’s Iron Dome rocket interception system.
Three Palestinians were killed in Monday’s attacks, a day after a high of 42 died in Sunday’s barrage of air raids.
Officials from Hamas, labeled a militant terrorist organization by the U.S., told the BBC that the total hostilities in the round of fighting that has stretched into a second week is 197, with approximately 1,200 wounded. Ten Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets so far.
Here’s the rest of the latest on Monday:
-President Joe Biden on Sunday said the U.S. is working toward achieving “a sustained calm” in the region. American, Egyptian and European envoys are working to negotiate a ceasefire. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated Monday that he will press on with attacks for as long as he feels necessary. “There are always pressures but overall, we’re being backed in a significant manner,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in a statement.
-A growing number of Democrats have grown frustrated with Biden’s response to the conflict, which they see as too restrained. A group of 28 Democratic senators, led by Jon Ossoff, the Jewish freshman from Georgia, called for an “immediate ceasefire” in a statement on Sunday. Jewish Sen. Chuck Schumer did not sign the statement — he has maintained that Israel is rightfully carrying out the attacks as self defense. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Sunday that the U.S. is working “virtually non-stop” to negotiate a ceasefire.
-Violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem is flaring up. On Sunday, Israeli police officers shot dead a Palestinian man who rammed his car into a police car in east Jerusalem, injuring six officers, Border Police said. On Monday, troops near Nablus narrowly escaped another car ramming attempt, Kan reported. Over the weekend alone, 30 fires were started near Israeli settlements in the West Bank, according to Kan.
-Israel will reportedly share intelligence information with U.S. officials about its strike on a building Saturday that housed offices of several news organizations, including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Israel claimed Hamas operated in the building as well. The attack earned widespread international condemnation, including a rare rebuke from the U.S. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt in a statement said the AP is “seeking information from the Israeli government and the U.S. State Department” on the incident. “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” an AP statement said. The building was evacuated prior to being hit as per a warning issued by the IDF an hour before the strike.
-On his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” May 16, comedian John Oliver lashed out at Israel in a 10-minute segment lambasting what he described as a vastly unequal conflict and tepid U.S. response. Stating multiple times that Israel was committing “war crimes” in Gaza, Oliver also added that its governance over the Palestinians constituted “a form of apartheid,” referencing the existence of a recent report from Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem as proof. Oliver also criticized American politicians for their reliance on the phrase “Israel has a right to defend itself,” and harshly criticized the IDF for a social media post that turned its leveling of a Gaza apartment building into a meme format.
-Influential progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had called Israel an apartheid state on Twitter on Saturday as well.