The US President ‘encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians’ and ‘expressed his support for a ceasefire’ during their phone call as it emerged that 42 Palestinians were killed on Sunday in the deadliest day of the conflict so far.
Netanyahu later vowed to ‘continue striking at the terrorist targets’ as the Palestinian death toll climbed to 212 – including 61 children. Israel’s Defence Forces say that 120 Hamas militants have been killed and another 25 are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Ten Israeli civilians, including a child, have been killed in relentless rocket fire from the Strip which has seen colossal retaliatory air strikes on densely populated areas since last Monday.
The IDF said it struck 65 targets overnight, blasting tunnels and underground bunkers used by the militants, known as ‘The Metro’ by the army. Meanwhile Hamas fired 70 rockets – most of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system.
Footage released by the IDF showed an airstrike on what they said was a Hamas ‘suicide submarine’ after militants were spotted launching the autonomous submersible in northern Gaza.
The submarines, capable of carrying up to 66 pounds of explosives and guided by GPS technology, are suspected of attempted attacks on Israeli oil rigs in the Mediterranean.
But despite their breakthroughs against Hamas, Israel faces a growing crisis on three fronts, with an internal battle to quell unrest among Palestinians in the West Bank, and to prevent rocket attacks by terrorists in neighbouring Lebanon.
Palestinian firefighters douse a huge fire at the Foamco mattress factory following an Israeli airstrike, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip
Explosions light-up the night sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave in the early hours of Tuesday
A Palestinian woman stands next to an unexploded bomb dropped by an Israeli F-16 warplane on Gaza City’s Rimal neighbourhood
Palestinians sit among the rubble of their home that was destroyed during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday
Palestinian firefighters inspect the remains of a destroyed residential building targeted by Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday
Palestinians carry the body of Obaida Jawabreh, killed a day earlier during clashes with Israeli soldiers, at his funeral in al-Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron city in the the occupied West Wank
Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air strike on a building, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City on Tuesday
Rockets are launched towards Israel from the southern Gaza Strip on Monday evening. The IDF said that 70 were fired last night
Palestinian demonstrators burn tires during a protest against the tension in Jerusalem and the Israeli-Gaza fighting, on May 17, 2021 in the occupied West Bank, near the settlement of Beit El next to Ramallah
Rocket fire from the northern border has increased in recent days amid resentment for the air strikes on Hamas. Terror groups in Lebanon such as Hezbollah back Hamas’ efforts against Israel.
Israeli fire has cratered roads and battered crucial infrastructure in Gaza, causing blackouts and prompting the electricity authority to warn Monday it only had enough fuel left to provide power for another two to three days.
The conflict risks precipitating a humanitarian disaster, with the UN saying nearly 40,000 Palestinians have been displaced and 2,500 have lost their homes.
Palestinian militants have fired around 3,350 rockets toward Israel in the heaviest exchange of fire in years.
Hamas has threatened more rocket strikes on Tel Aviv if bombing of residential areas does not stop.
Tuesday’s airstrikes toppled a six-story building that housed libraries and educational centres belonging to the Islamic University, leaving behind a massive mound of concrete slabs. Desks, office chairs, books and computer wires could be seen in the debris. Residents sifted through the rubble, searching for their belongings.
Israel warned the building’s residents ahead of time, sending them fleeing into the predawn darkness, and there were no reports of casualties. Israel typically says such buildings also house militant infrastructure.
‘The whole street started running, then destruction, an earthquake,’ said Jamal Herzallah, a resident of the area. ‘This whole area was shaking.’
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of a house destroyed by an early morning Israeli airstrike on Tuesday
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of a six-story building which was destroyed by an early morning Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City
A block of flats destroyed during an Israeli air strike in the early hours of Tuesday
Late Monday, strikes had knocked out Gaza’s only Covid-19 testing laboratory and damaged the office of the Qatari Red Crescent.
The rate of positive coronavirus tests in Gaza has been among the highest in the world, at 28 percent.
Hospitals in the poverty-stricken territory, which has been under Israeli blockade for almost 15 years, have been overwhelmed by patients.
Gaza resident Roba Abu al-Awf, 20, said she expected a rough night.
‘We have nothing to do but sit at home,’ she said. ‘Death could come at any moment – the bombing is crazy and indiscriminate.’
In the West Bank, occupied by Israel since 1967, Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas urged Washington to act against ‘Israel’s aggression’, in a meeting with US envoy for Israeli and Palestinian affairs Hady Amr, the official Wafa news agency reported.
People look at an unexploded missile thrown by Israel in al-Rimal neighborhood as Israeli warplanes continue to carry out airstrikes
Palestinian workers clean up the rubble and attempt to repair infrastructures damaged in Israeli air raids in Gaza City on Tuesday
Smoke and flames are seen following an Israeli air strike on a building, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City May 18
Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on a building, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City on Tuesday
Thick black smoke rises from an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday
Even as Security Council ceasefire efforts have faltered and the US has been accused of obstructionism, mediation channels are being opened behind the scenes.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart and the Egyptian government – a key intermediary – on Monday, saying that Washington was engaged in ‘quiet, intensive diplomacy’.
French and Egyptian presidents Emmanuel Macron and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are pushing for a ceasefire deal and aim to get the backing of Jordan. Another channel has been opened, via the UN, with the help of Qatar and Egypt.
European Union foreign ministers will also hold urgent talks on the violence Tuesday, said the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, who has been conducting ‘intense’ diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the fighting.
The Hezbollah and Palestinian flags are flown at the Israeli border as an Israel flag is burned during a protest in Maroun Al-Ras village, near the border with Israel, in southern Lebanon
Palestinian firefighters attempt to put out a blaze at a sponge factory in the northern Gaza Strip on Monday
Flames rip through a warehouse belonging to a sponge factory in the northern Gaza Strip early on Monday
Israel has defied international calls for a ceasefire and continues to bombard targets within Gaza today
Palestinians inspect damaged building after airstrikes by Israeli army hit buildings in Gaza City
The conflict was sparked after clashes broke out at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound – one of Islam’s holiest sites – after Israeli forces moved in on worshippers on May 7.
This followed a crackdown against protests over planned evictions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.
Israel is also trying to contain violence between Jews and Israeli Arabs, as well as unrest in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian authorities say Israeli forces have killed 20 Palestinians since May 10.
Abbas’s Fatah movement has called for a ‘day of anger’ and a general strike on Tuesday, a call echoed in Arab and ethnically mixed towns inside Israel.
Does Israel have its own ‘ninja missiles’? Precision strike that killed Hamas ‘terrorist’ but left his car largely intact sparks speculation that IDF has weapon similar to six-bladed US rocket
By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline
A bombed-out car in the Gaza Strip has sparked speculation that Israel has developed its own version of America’s six-bladed ‘ninja missiles’.
The car – a while Citroen Xsara – was blown up in a strike by the Israeli air force on Tuesday to the west of Gaza City in an attack the IDF said targeted operatives of a Hamas ‘suicide submarine’.
Video of the strike, released by the IDF, shows the driver’s side of the car being struck by a missile which blows out the windows and doors but otherwise leaves the vehicle intact as it rolls to a stop on a nearby roundabout.
The pattern of damage is similar, though not identical to, damage caused by R9X ‘ninja missiles’ – dud Hellfire rockets that use a combination of sheer force and six long blades to shred targets and have been used by the US in Lybia, Syria and Iraq.
That has raised questions over whether the Israeli military, with its strong ties to the US, has been able to develop its own version of the missile.
A precision strike on what the IDF described as a Hamas terrorist involved in a ‘suicide submarine’ attack killed the man, but left his car largely intact
The pattern of damage, similar to that seen in CIA and Pentagon strikes using ‘ninja missiles’, has sparked speculation that the IDF has developed a similar weapon
The strike blew out the car’s windows, doors and roof, but without destroying the vehicle and left two cars parked nearby with only moderate damage
‘Ninja missile’ strikes – often against vehicles – are distinctive because the car typically remains intact with only a small hole or holes caused by the missile.
The hole itself is often star shaped because the uses six blades that extend from the sides of the rocket to slice through its target – hence its nickname.
Because the missile’s warhead is inert – meaning non-explosive – targeted vehicles usually do not show signs of blast damage, such as blown-out windows or doors.
That is not the case with the strike in Gaza, since the car’s roof, front doors and boot have clearly been bent outwards by a small explosion.
Two parked vehicles that were close to the strike also had their windows either fully or partially blown out with the force, with shrapnel damage visible across their bodywork and tyres blown out.
IDF footage also shows a small explosion partially destroying the vehicle.
But the damage is far less extensive than would be expected from a strike using a conventional missile, which has caused speculation online.
IDF footage of the strike shows the car drive off down the street before the missile strikes, after which it rolls to a stop at a roundabout
Footage captured by Palestinian media showed people rushing to help the car’s occupant after the blast, though it is thought the sole occupant was killed
‘Reminds me of the R9X strikes in Syria but as far as I know, Israel do not possess them.’
Coupsure, another open-source intelligence Twitter feed in French, added to the speculation, writing: ‘It is interesting to note that there is very little damage in the surroundings.
‘I think they used a missile similar to the R9X or a missile with a very small explosive charge.’
MailOnline has reached out to the Israeli defence ministry but had not received a response prior to publication.
The R9X, a modified version of the better-known Hellfire missile, was developed during Obama’s presidency amid concerns over the number of civilians being killed in drone strike campaigns in the Middle East.
The R9X is a modified version of the precision Hellfire missile which carries a non-explosive warhead filled with 45kg of metal and six ejecting blades designed to shred its target
Strikes using ninja missiles are distinctive because they leave vehicles intact with star-shaped damage marks caused by the blades (pictured, a ‘ninja missile’ attack in Syria in 2020)
The first known attack using a R9X missile was to kill deputy leader of Al-Qaeda Abu Khayr al-Masri in February 2017 (above)
It was also developed in response to tactics by terrorists who took to hiding among women and children in the hopes they would not be targeted.
The weapon consists of a typical Hellfire missile with its laser targeting system, but with the explosive warhead replaced by 45kg of metal designed to crush the target.
Six blades are also hidden in the missile’s fuselage which extend moments before it strikes the target, allowing it to shred through vehicles.
Under development since 2011, the first known use of the missile was in 2017 to kill the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, Abu Khayr al-Masri in Syria.
It was used in a number of other strikes that year across Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia, and again in 2019 in Afghanistan.
The aim of the weapon – also known as the ‘Flying Ginsu’ after a famous brand of knives – is to be able to kill a terrorist target in a car without harming the driver, or to kill someone at the dinner table without harming others sitting with them.
Obama had reportedly considered using an R9X to kill Osama Bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011 – though he eventually decided to send in a Navy SEAL team instead.