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Ready for War: Israel Intensifies Gaza Airstrikes & Strikes West Bank Before Conflict’s ‘Next Stage’

Israel intensified its airstrikes on Gaza Sunday and targeted Hamas locations in the West Bank ahead of what the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said will be the “next stage” in its fight against the militant Islamist group. Netanyahu said Saturday that “the next phase of our operation” will now begin and the Israeli Air Force stepped up its bombardment of Gaza on Sunday, hitting more targets located in residential areas, including a refugee camp, two mosques, a university, and a media office. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it assassinated at least 13 high-ranking Hamas military operatives while at least 30 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since Friday. In response to Israel’s aggression, Hamas fired at least 60 rockets into Israel which targeted major cities including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beersheba. One person has been killed in Israel so far and at least seven people were injured as a result of the attacks. Despite international calls for an immediate ceasefire, Prime Minister Netanyahu along with other Israeli leaders declared that there was no intention of halting their military campaign anytime soon. In a speech the same day, the Prime Minister declared that Israel is determined to “continue to take tough and strong action against the terrorists of Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza,” of which he said there are “many.” The Israel-Palestinian conflict, which is occurring in its most intense form in years, saw a military campaign start earlier this month when Israel waged a campaign of airstrikes targeting Hamas in retaliation for the group’s rocket fire, which was said to be in response to a series of evictions of Palestinians from East Jerusalem neighborhoods. The conflict threatens to become a full-blown conflict if peace efforts fail and tensions between the two sides continue to escalate. The international community is calling for calm and a cessation of hostilities in order to de-escalate the crisis.