Israeli airstrikes hammered the Gaza Strip on Monday after a week of violence that has killed more than 200 people, the large majority Palestinian, despite international calls for de-escalation.
Before dawn, in the space of just a few minutes, dozens of Israeli strikes bombarded the crowded coastal Palestinian enclave controlled by Islamist group Hamas, according to AFP journalists and the army.
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Flames lit up the sky as intense explosions shook Gaza city, sparking widespread power cuts and damaging hundreds of buildings, local authorities said. No casualties were immediately reported.
Some 3,100 rockets have also been fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel since conflict escalated on May 10 in the heaviest exchange of fire between the rivals in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem.
On Monday morning, an AFP reporter in Gaza saw huge plumes of grey smoke billow from a mattress foam factory, as civil defence members aimed high-pressure water hoses at the blaze.
West Gaza resident Mad Abed Rabbo, 39, expressed “horror and fear” at the intensity of the onslaught.
“There have never been strikes of this magnitude,” he said.
Gaza resident Mani Qazaat said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should realise we’re civilians, not fighters”.
“I felt like I was dying,” he said.