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Israel: jets bomb Gaza as tensions rise following provocative march 

June 16, 2021 at 3:06 pm

Flames are seen after an Israeli air strike hit Gaza on 15 June 2021 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip were subjected to a fresh round of Israeli air strikes during the early hours of this morning, which threatened the fragile ceasefire agreed on 21 May. The deal ended the bombardment by Israeli aircraft and drones, during which more than 250 Palestinians were killed, including women and children.

The latest Israeli attack came on the back of escalating tension in occupied East Jerusalem where the controversial Flag March was allowed to go ahead despite pleas from Palestinians. Israel claims that its jets attacked Gaza in retaliation for Hamas launching “incendiary balloons”, which were in turn said to have been a reaction to the provocative march.

The Flag March is an annual event to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem by Israeli forces in 1967. Far-right Israeli settles carrying flags and chanting racist slogans such as “death to Arabs” flow through Muslim and Christian Palestinian areas in the occupied city.

Hamas warned Israel not to go ahead with Tuesday’s march, as did many others, including the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s senior religious authority.

The hate and racism that was on display during the march was condemned by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who is in a coalition government with Naftali Bennett, a far-right ultranationalist considered to be more extreme than the man he deposed, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Expressing his opposition on twitter, Lapid said that the “fact that there are extremist elements for whom the flag of Israel represents hate and racism is revolting and unforgivable. This isn’t Judaism or Israeliness, and it is definitely not what our flag symbolises. These people are a disgrace to the nation of Israel.”

The Palestinian Authority mission to the United Nations also condemned Israel’s latest air strikes against the Palestinians: “After today’s provocative Flag March in occupied #Jerusalem, Israel is NOW bombing #Gaza (1:00 am local #Palestine time),” it tweeted. “It appears that [Israel] once again has violated international law and broken the terms of the ‘ceasefire’.”