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World

Death toll climbs in Israel-Gaza conflict as France proposes ceasefire

  • Israel's near-relentless bombing campaign in response has sent fireballs, debris and black smoke into the sky, leaving two million Palestinians in Gaza desperate for reprieve.
19 May 2021

GAZA CITY: Heavy air strikes and rocket fire in the Israel-Gaza conflict claimed more lives on both sides Tuesday as calls intensified for an end to the bloodshed.

A UN Security Council meeting broke up without issuing a statement, but France then said it had proposed a resolution calling for a ceasefire, in coordination with Israel's neighbours Egypt and Jordan.

Zhang Jun, Beijing's ambassador to the UN, told reporters his team had heard the French ceasefire proposal and China was "supportive".

Sporadic bombardment of Gaza city continued after midnight, with residents kept awake as Israeli jets flew low overhead, an AFP correspondent in the besieged coastal strip said. Randa Abu Sultan, 45, said her family no longer knew what sleep was.

"We're all terrified by the sound of explosions, missiles and fighter jets," said the mother of seven.

"We all sit together in a single room. My four-year-old son tells me he's scared that if he falls asleep he'll wake up to find us dead."

Earlier in the evening, an AFP photographer saw streaks of light in the sky as Israel's air defence system intercepted rockets launched from Gaza.

Israeli forces and protesters meanwhile clashed at multiple flashpoints across the occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem, hospitalising scores, as Palestinians rallied in solidarity with their besieged Gazan counterparts.

Dozens were treated for wounds caused by live bullets, medics said.

Israeli air strikes have killed 217 Palestinians, including 63 children, and wounded more than 1,400 people in just over a week in the Hamas-run enclave, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The death toll on the Israeli side has risen to 12 after rockets Hamas fired at the southern Eshkol region killed two Thai nationals working in a factory, police said.

Hamas has launched nearly 3,700 rockets at Israel since May 10, often forcing people living by Gaza into bomb shelters around the clock.

Israel's near-relentless bombing campaign in response has sent fireballs, debris and black smoke into the sky, leaving two million Palestinians in Gaza desperate for reprieve.

The humanitarian crisis has deepened in the impoverished strip, with the UN saying 72,000 Palestinians have been displaced.

But a convoy of international aid trucks that started rolling into Gaza through a border crossing from Israel, Kerem Shalom, was halted when Israel quickly shuttered it again, citing a mortar attack on the area.

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