Israeli warplanes unleashed another wave of heavy airstrikes on the Gaza Strip Monday, destroying about 60 miles of militant tunnels and the homes of nine Hamas commanders — and also killing a senior Islamic Jihad leader, the military said. Smoke billows from the port of Gaza City following Israeli bombardment from the sea.AFP via Getty Images As the escalating hostilities entered their second week, the Gaza Health Ministry said 198 residents have been killed, including 58 children and 35 women, and some 1,300 have been injured in the fighting. The ministry doesn’t specify how many of the dead belonged to Hamas or other terrorist groups, but Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said during a media briefing Monday that “the most conservative estimate” was that 130 enemy combatants have been killed. A rocket fired from Gaza flies towards Israel.EPA On the Israeli side, 10 people have been killed in the fighting, including a soldier and a 5-year-old boy. Conricus told reporters Monday that the IDF had assassinated Hussam Abu Harbeed, who commanded Islamic Jihad’s northern Gaza brigade and led attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians for almost 15 years. In a statement, the IDF said Harbeed “was behind several anti-tank missile terror attacks against Israeli civilians.” One of those attacks occurred on the first day of the current round of fighting when a civilian was wounded, Conricus said. Palestinian firefighters douse a huge fire at the Foamco mattress factory following an Israeli airstrike, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip.AFP via Getty Images There was no immediate confirmation from Islamic Jihad or its armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades, about the assassination. Conricus also announced Monday it had destroyed just about 60 miles of militant tunnels. “Our fighter jets neutralized 9.3 miles of the Hamas ‘Metro’ terror tunnel system overnight. That’s 9.3 miles that can no longer be used for terror,” it said in a statement before the updated information was provided by Conricus. There was no immediate word on the casualties from the latest strikes. An Israeli artillery battery shelling targets in the Gaza Strip as the escalation continues between the Israeli army and Hamas forces at the Gaza border.EPA A three-story building in Gaza City was heavily damaged, but residents said the IDF warned them 10 minutes before the strike and everyone managed to get out. Gaza Mayor Yahya Sarraj told Al-Jazeera TV that the strikes had caused extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure. “If the aggression continues, we expect conditions to become worse,” he said. Flares fired by Israeli forces light the beach of Gaza City.EPA The Israel Defense Forces has hit over 1,180 targets in the Strip since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls, according to the Haaretz Daily. About 3,200 rockets have been launched toward Israel, about 460 of which fell short and landed within the Strip, Conricus said. The IDF’s Iron Dome defense system has shot down about 90 percent of the projectiles, he said. In another development Monday, a rocket fired by militants hit a building in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, lightly injuring several residents. Rockets also struck buildings in Ashkelon. The hostilities broke out May 10 when Hamas militants fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem after weeks of clashes in the holy city between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police. A Palestinian firefighter puts out a fire at the site of Israeli strikes in Gaza City.REUTERS The protests centered on the policing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a compound that is revered by Jews and Muslims, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers. “I have not seen this level of destruction through my 14 years of work — not even in the 2014 war,” said Samir al-Khatib, an emergency rescue official in Gaza, referring to the most destructive of the previous three wars fought between Israel and Hamas. A Palestinian firefighter reacts at the site of Israeli strikes in Gaza City.REUTERS Despite international efforts at a cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the IDF attacks were continuing at “full force” and would “take time.“ A Palestinian man walks through the ruins in the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes.REUTERS Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” on Hamas, he said. Hamas’ top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who is based abroad, said the group has been contacted by the US, Russia, Egypt and Qatar as part of cease-fire efforts but “will not accept a solution that is not up to the sacrifices of the Palestinian people.” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said his government is working “urgently” to end the violence. With Post wires
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