Jerusalem: Rockets streamed out of Gaza and Israel pounded the territory occupied by the militant Palestinian group Hamas on Wednesday, even as the UN watched the fireworks from the sidelines, fearing that the hostilities may escalate into a "full-scale war".
A determined Israel pledged a robust response and resolved to bring 'total, long-term quiet' to the region.
Palls of smoke rose in parts of Palestinian-occupied Gaza, even as Israeli airstrikes flattened two apartment towers and hammered the Arab militant group's multiple security installations.
Hamas confirmed that several of its top commanders were killed in the air strikes, including the commander of its Gaza City Brigade, Bassem Issa. The Palestinian death toll spiralled to 43 on Wednesday, including 13 children and another 230 people wounded.
The militants have launched more than 1,000 rockets at Israel since Monday, killing five civilians, including an Arab-Israeli girl in the city of Lod. Boris Johnson condemned the spiralling conflict after his former counterpart Donald Trump blamed 'weak' Joe Biden for allowing things to escalate.
The tensions began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Muslim neighbourhoods ignited protests and clashes with police. On Monday, a riot on Temple Mount left hundreds of Palestinians wounded before Hamas started launching rockets.
A civil-war like situation has gripped the city of Lod which saw riots after thousands of mourners joined a funeral for an Arab man killed by a suspected Jewish gunman the previous night.
In Israel, five people including three women have been killed. One of the three women was in her 60s and another in her 80s and died during Hamas rocket attacks earlier on Tuesday. The Jerusalem turmoil and the ensuing battle come at a time when the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process is virtually non-existent.