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UN envoy warns of ‘a full scale war’ as death toll rises in Israel-Hamas violence

Published: May 12, 2021
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Source: the guardian

Israeli jets and Palestinian militants have traded fresh airstrikes and rocket fire as the UN’s Middle East envoy warned of an escalation towards a full-scale war.

One person was killed and two injured after an anti-tank guided missile struck a vehicle patrolling near the border between Israel and Gaza on Wednesday morning. Mortar shells fired across the border hampered efforts by medical teams to reach the scene.

Hamas said it had carried out the attacks. Meanwhile, the Gaza health ministry said the death toll in Gaza had reached 48, including 14 children, with more than 300 wounded. Six people in Israel have been killed.

In the worst descent into violence since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza and Palestinian militant groups have fired multiple rocket barrages at Israeli cities.

Israel’s Channel 12 said Egyptian mediators were trying to broker a ceasefire agreement. However, Benny Gantz, Israel’s defence minister, said military operations would continue.

“Israel is not preparing for a ceasefire. There is currently no end date for the operation. Only when we achieve complete quiet can we talk about calm,” he said. “We will not listen to moral preaching against our duty to protect the citizens of Israel.”

Jonathan Conricus, a spokesperson for the Israeli army, said he expected the fighting to intensify. Asked about a possible ceasefire, he said: “I don’t think my commanders are aware, or particularly interested.”

The UN envoy Tor Wennesland said leaders on all sides “have to take the responsibility of de-escalation” after a day of ferocious confrontations and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, promising to intensify attacks on Gaza.

“The cost of war in Gaza is devastating and is being paid by ordinary people,” said Wennesland, who is expected to brief the 15 members of the UN security council on the crisis on Wednesday, its second such meeting in three days.

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