Israel has not overreacted in its response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, U.S. President Joe Biden claimed on Thursday as the Israeli aggression against Palestinian civilians continued to escalate.
"One of the things that I have seen thus far is that there has not been a significant overreaction," Biden said at the White House. "The question is how we get to a point where, how they get to a point where there is a significant reduction in the attacks, particularly the rocket attacks that are indiscriminately fired into population centers."
Ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza killed 15 more Palestinians on Thursday, raising the death toll to 87, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Fatalities include 18 children and eight women, while 530 people have been injured, the ministry said in a statement.
Residential areas have been targeted by Israeli airstrikes in the densely populated coastal enclave, and at least three multistory buildings have been leveled.
To date, seven Israelis have been killed in recent violence – six in rocket attacks in addition to a soldier who was killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep.
Tensions have been running high in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem since last week when an Israeli court ordered the expulsion of Palestinian families from the Palestinian-majority area. The Israeli Supreme Court later delayed a hearing on an appeal.
Palestinians protesting in solidarity with residents of the neighborhood have been targeted by Israeli forces and far-right settler groups.
The death toll from the ongoing Israeli airstrikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip has risen to 60, including 14 children, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Wednesday amid an escalation sparked by violent unrest at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. A ministry statement said that three women were among the victims in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, while 305 people were injured.
Hamas confirmed Wednesday that several of its top commanders were killed in Israeli strikes, including its military chief in Gaza City, Bassem Issa. Israel's internal security agency, the Shin Bet, also identified four other top Hamas figures who it said were killed.
Two Israeli women were also killed by rockets fired from Gaza in response to recent Israeli aggression in the heavily targeted coastal city of Ashkelon, just north of Gaza, said the emergency service Magen David Adom. The local Barzilai medical center said it was treating 70 who were injured.
Hamas' Qassem Brigades had vowed to turn the town "to hell" and rained down an intense volley, claiming to have fired 137 rockets towards Ashkelon and nearby Ashdod within just five minutes. Loud booms again rocked the town on Tuesday, where a rocket had ripped a gaping hole into the side of an apartment block, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter said.
Over 90% of recent rockets from Gaza were reported intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, Israeli army spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said earlier.
Israel fighter jets and attack helicopters have carried out more than 130 strikes on military targets in the enclave, said Conricus. Israeli officials said they have killed 15 Hamas commanders, while the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad confirmed two of its senior figures were also killed.
Tensions in Jerusalem have flared into the city's worst disturbances since 2017 in the days since Israeli riot police clashed with large crowds of Palestinians on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Nightly unrest since then at the Al-Aqsa complex in occupied East Jerusalem has left more than 700 Palestinians wounded, drawing international calls for de-escalation and sharp rebukes from across the Muslim world.
Hamas had Monday warned Israel to withdraw all its forces from the mosque complex and the East Jerusalem district of Sheikh Jarrah, where the looming forced expulsion of Palestinian families has fuelled angry protests.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.
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