Wars and Military Conflicts

Israeli shelling of Gaza continues; Hamas predicts a cease-fire within days

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Key Points
  • Hamas says it sees a cease-fire happening in the coming days, but so far Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu says he plans to carry on the military offensive.
  • The violence in the territory — the worst it has seen since 2014 — has left at least 227 Palestinians dead, at least 63 of them children.
  • At least 12 people in Israel have been killed, two of them children as Hamas fired thousands of rockets on Israeli cities and towns.
Israeli soldiers work in an artillery unit as it fires near the border between Israel and the Gaza strip, on the Israeli side May 19, 2021.
Ammar Awad | Reuters

UPDATE: Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire.

Israel launched a fresh wave of airstrikes over the Gaza Strip early Thursday in what it said are continued operations to take out Hamas targets.

Hamas, meanwhile, has indicated it sees a cease-fire happening within the next few days. So far, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he plans to carry on the offensive, telling Israeli media Wednesday night that he is "determined to continue in this operation until its objective is achieved."

Top Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk told a Lebanese television channel he expected a cease-fire in one to two days, while mediation efforts led by Egypt — the only country with open lines of communication to Hamas and Israeli leaders — are reportedly ongoing.

U.S. President Joe Biden discussed efforts to achieve a cease-fire with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Thursday, according to a White House readout of the call.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the reports of a potential cease-fire "encouraging," but she did not confirm an agreement had been reached when pressed by journalists at a Thursday briefing. Psaki said the administration expects Israel to wind down its military operations "in short order."

Biden had told Netanyahu on Wednesday he "expects a significant de-escalation in Gaza," but so far those words have not been heeded, and the exchange of fire from both sides continues.

A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Bashar Taleb | AFP | Getty Images

The bombings early Thursday from Israeli fighter jets killed at least one Palestinian, wounded several others and destroyed at least five homes, according to health officials in Gaza. Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization and political party that has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, has fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel. 

The recent violence in the territory — which began May 10 and is the worst it has seen since 2014 — has left at least 227 Palestinians dead, at least 63 of them children.

At least 12 people in Israel have been killed, two of them children. Some Hamas rockets have also reportedly landed in Gaza, killing Palestinians as well. 

Palestinian children salvage toys from their home at the Al-Jawhara Tower in Gaza City, on May 17, 2021, which was heavily damaged in Israeli airstrikes.
Anas Baba | AFP | Getty Images

Israel's military said it hit at least four homes belonging to Hamas commanders, targeting "military infrastructure" and weapons storage, particularly Hamas' network of underground tunnels. But those tunnels run under civilian neighborhoods, meaning several Palestinian families have lost their homes, with many civilians buried in the rubble. 

-- CNBC's Spencer Kimball contributed to this report.