A night of heavy bombardment from Israel has left 100 Palestinians dead in the fighting in Gaza on Tuesday.
Israeli shells hit a fuel tank on the Gaza Strip’s only power plant on Tuesday, forcing it to shut down. The huge cloud of black smoke could be seen for miles over the city. Israeli forces also hit 70 targets overnight, including Hamas’ television network al-Aqsa.
The home of the top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, was also targeted, as well as various government offices.
Israeli forces fired hundreds of flares that turned the night sky bright orange. By daybreak Tuesday, a cloud of thick dust from the explosions hung over Gaza City.
Signaling an escalation of Israel’s Gaza operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis Monday to be ready for a “prolonged” war, and the military warned Palestinians in three large neighborhoods to leave their homes and head immediately for Gaza City.
At dawn Tuesday, plumes of smoke rose above the Al Shorouq media building in central Gaza City that houses the offices of the Hamas-run Al Aqsa television and radio. Hours earlier, at least two major explosions hit the media building, one of the tallest in Gaza, starting a fire on the roof and shaking surrounding buildings.
AP video showed a massive flash as the first strike hit the top of the building, sending debris raining down. The building also houses offices of a number of Arab satellite television news channels.
Netanyahu defended the Gaza strikes on Monday, saying that “there is no war more just than this.” The intense fighting came just a day after nine children were killed by a strike on a Gaza park where they were playing. Both Hamas and Israel are blaming each other.
The three-week-long fighting has led to a Palestinian death toll that surpasses 1,110. Israel has lost 53 soldiers. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have been pressing Israel to accept an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest.