Israel blows up Hamas chief, cyber warfare chief, rocket development chief… -Israeli air strike kills Hamas chief U.S. sends envoy to Middle East

Israel says it killed 16 members of the Hamas military wing, including senior commanders and weapons developers, in an air strike on Gaza on Wednesday (May 12). Palestinian militants also dropped rockets on Israel. The military conflict was the worst in years, and the United Nations warned of the risk of a full-scale move toward war.

The U.S. State Department sent a special envoy to mediate the situation.

The Palestinian health ministry says at least 65 people have been killed and at least 365 wounded in Gaza since the violence escalated on Monday (May 10). Israeli medics say six people have been killed in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military commander in Gaza City was one of the senior members of the Islamist militant group Hamas who was killed.

“This is just the beginning. We will strike them in a way that will be unimaginable to them.” He said.

Israel’s National Security Agency said Wednesday that Bassim Issa, the leader of Hamas’s military operations in Gaza City, and other senior commanders, including Hamas’s chief engineer and chief of cyber warfare and rocket development, were killed in the strike.

Hamas confirmed the death of a commander and the disappearance of “other leaders and fighters.

This is the largest military conflict between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 Gaza war, and there are growing fears that the situation could spiral out of control.

Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepts Hamas rockets on May 12, 2021.

Rockets and airstrikes continue

Gaza militants have fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel, killing five Israeli civilians and wounding more than 200 since the latest round of heavy attacks on Monday afternoon, the Israeli military said Wednesday. About 130 rockets struck Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, forcing the closure of Israel’s main international airport, Ben Gurion.

Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepted many of the rockets, but several still hit Tel Aviv, burning a bus and killing an Israeli woman. Thousands of Israelis spent the night in bomb shelters.

An Israeli soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile along the Gaza border, the military said. In Lod, near Tel Aviv, two people were killed by rocket fire.

In Gaza, after warning residents in advance to evacuate, Israel airstrikes a high-rise building that houses the offices of Hamas’ intelligence agency and rocket development agency. Another building was also heavily damaged in the airstrike.

Other targets of the airstrikes included Hamas rocket launching sites, Hamas offices and the homes of Hamas leaders, the Israeli military revealed. Israeli officials say at least 41 Palestinian militants have been killed so far in the hostilities in Gaza.

The Gaza Health Ministry says 16 people were killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza on Wednesday.

U.S. energy company Chevron said it has shut down the Tamar natural gas platform off the coast of Israel, as directed by the Energy Ministry. Israel says it will continue to meet energy needs.

U.S. Sends Envoy to Urge Calming of Violence

U.S. President Joe Biden said, “My expectation and hope is that sooner or later this action will end, but Israel has a right to defend itself.”

On Wednesday, the United States sent a top diplomat to urge Israelis and Palestinians to quell the violent conflict.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken defended Israel’s right to defend itself and condemned rocket fire by Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip. He also said Israel has a special obligation to avoid civilian casualties.

In a call with Netanyahu, Blinken, who described the damage as “tragic,” said he had sent Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hady Amr to the Middle East to meet with both sides.

“He will be urging a reduction in the escalation of violence on behalf of myself and President Joe Biden.” Blinken said.

Hamas fires rockets at Israel, May 11, 2021

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States. Blinken said, “The terrorist organization Hamas indiscriminately fired rockets against civilians, and Israel responded in self-defense.”

He also urged Israel to do all it could to avoid civilian casualties when responding in self-defense.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated his “strong support for Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense.

Austin also strongly condemned the firing of rockets by Hamas and other terrorist organizations against Israeli civilians,” and he reiterated the importance of all parties involved taking steps to restore calm.

British Foreign Secretary Calls for Calm

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday called on both sides to remain calm and eliminate the escalation of violence in the Middle East.

“We are concerned about the loss of civilian lives on all sides,” the British foreign secretary said.

“We call for calm and an end to rocket attacks by Hamas and the escalation of violence on all sides.”

Raab said after speaking by phone with the Israeli foreign minister and the Palestinian prime minister, no one wants to see a “further escalation” of the situation in the region.

UN fears all-out war

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israeli military operations will continue until “complete and long-term calm” is achieved.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Israeli forces will resist whether they escalate or cease operations.

U.N. Middle East peace envoy Thor Wennesland tweeted, “Immediate cease-fire. We are gradually moving toward full-scale war. Leaders on all sides must take responsibility for cooling down.”

The cost of war in Gaza is devastating, he wrote. …… UN is working with all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now.