June 17, 2021

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Israeli Warplanes Pound Hamas Tunnels In Gaza – NPR

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Israeli artillery fires towards Gaza Strip from a position at the Israeli-Gaza border near Sderot, on Wednesday. Ilia Yefimovich/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images hide caption

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Ilia Yefimovich/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Israeli artillery fires towards Gaza Strip from a position at the Israeli-Gaza border near Sderot, on Wednesday.

Ilia Yefimovich/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

JERUSALEM — There’s been no let-up in fighting as the battle between Israel and Hamas enters its 10th day, despite growing international calls for a cease-fire.

In one attack overnight, more than 50 warplanes pounded the southern part of the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli military. The target was a vast network of tunnels, which Israel says is used by Hamas to shuttle weapons and people.

Israel says more than 50 cross-border rockets attacks launched from Gaza set off sirens in some southern Israeli communities, killing two workers from Thailand. The Israeli military says more than 3,450 rockets have been launched from Gaza since the fighting began, more than in any previous conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli authorities say 12 people have been killed in Israel, including two children. Health officials in Gaza say 219 people there have been killed in the latest conflict, including 63 children, 36 women, and 16 elderly Gazans.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to end the conflict are picking up.

Egypt and the United Nations are trying to mediate a ceasefire. On Tuesday, France called for a U.N. Security Council resolution on the fighting.

By contrast, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the U.S. prefers “quiet, intensive behind-the-scenes” discussions to resolve the conflict. On Monday, President Joe Biden said he supports a ceasefire.

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus indicated that the battle will continue. Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, he said the campaign to destroy the Hamas tunnel network “will be expanded” in the coming days. Conricus called the tunnels “the backbone” of Hamas operations.

But the tunnels run under heavily populated areas and civilians are often caught up in the attacks. The foundations of buildings above the tunnels can collapse, killing people inside. Conricus says the Israeli military is trying to minimize the number of unintended casualties.
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