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Israel continues assault on Gaza for 2nd week as Netanyahu vows to quell Hamas rocket fire, "whatever it takes"

Deadliest day in Israel, Hamas clashes
Deadliest day in Israel, Hamas clashes 03:29

Tel Aviv — Israeli missiles continued to slam into the Gaza Strip on Monday after the deadliest day yet in the current fighting between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. At least 42 people were killed in Gaza on Sunday, including children, and several large buildings were destroyed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he wanted to "levy a heavy price" against Hamas for launching thousands of rockets at Israel — a barrage that also continued Monday.

As the conflict entered a second week, the Israeli strikes in Gaza were blamed for almost 200 Palestinian deaths as of Monday, including 55 children and 33 women. More than 1,200 have been injured in the assault. The rockets launched from the Gaza Strip by Hamas militants have killed 10 people in Israel, including a young boy and a soldier.

CBS News' Imtiaz Tyab reported on Monday from disputed East Jerusalem, which saw new violent protests over the weekend in the neighborhood where tension simmering for months between Jews and Muslims finally came to a head just over a week ago.

Israel-Gaza cross-border violence continues
Palestinians remove a body from the site of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, May 17, 2021. MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS

Overnight, dozens of Israeli airstrikes pounded the Gaza Strip again. Israel insists it is carrying out targeted strikes against Palestinian militants and commanders. Officials said the most recent strikes on Monday destroyed about nine miles of tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons and other goods into Gaza, and the homes of more Hamas commanders.

But Israel's fighter jets continue to obliterate buildings in neighborhoods that are densely packed with civilians, too.

Video showed a six-year-old Palestinian girl named Suzy being pulled from the rubble of what was her home on Sunday after she was trapped for seven hours. Her mother and four siblings were killed in the Israeli strike.

A Picture and its Story: Gaza girl survives Israeli strike that shattered her family and home
Palestinian girl Suzy Eshkuntana, 6, is treated by a medic at a hospital after being pulled from the rubble of a building hit by an Israeli airstrike, as her father watches from the next bed, in Gaza City, May 16, 2021. MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS

"I was filled with all the anger of the universe, but when I heard that one of my daughters was alive, I thanked God," her father Riyad Eshkuntana said from the hospital bed next to his daughter. He had thought he was the lone survivor in his family. 

The evisceration of some of Gaza's tallest buildings by Israeli fighter jets has been caught on live television, including a 12-story tower reduced to rubble on Saturday that had housed foreign media outlets, including The Associated Press.

The journalists were given about an hour of advanced warning to leave the building ahead of the strike, but both the AP and Al-Jazeera criticized the attack and said it would hinder independent reporting from the Palestinian territory. The media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the strike.

Speaking to CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Israel's Netanyahu defended the attack, insisting there was "an intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization [Hamas] housed in that building that plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians."

Netanyahu says Israel will do "whatever it ta... 12:03

He called it "a perfectly legitimate target," and said information had been passed on to U.S. intelligence officials backing up Israel's stance. Neither the Biden administration nor U.S. intelligence officials had confirmed on Monday morning assertions by Israeli officials that their explanation of the strike on the Gaza building had been accepted by the White House.

CBS News' Christina Ruffini asked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday specifically whether he had seen intelligence that Israeli officials claim to have shared with the U.S., proving that Hamas was using the building. The top U.S. diplomat, who has said for days that he's working around the clock to ease the tension, said he had not.

"I have not seen any information provided, and again, to the extent that it is based on intelligence, that would have been shared with other colleagues, and I'll leave that to them to assess," Blinken said.

The Associated Press has said that neither its management nor its Gaza office staff were ever warned prior to Saturday that they were using a building also purportedly inhabited by Hamas.

Netanyahu told "Face the Nation" that Israel would "do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet and the security of our people," and to prevent future attacks by Hamas.

Despite the enormous devastation across Gaza, Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel on Monday. 

A view inside a synagogue damaged by a rocket, in Ashkelon
People clean inside a synagogue damaged by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, as Israeli-Palestinian cross-border violence continues, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, May 16, 2021. BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

Sirens wailed across several southern Israeli communities near the Gaza border as residents were told to get into bomb shelters.

While Israel says the vast majority of the Hamas rockets are intercepted by the country's advanced "Iron Dome" missile defense system, some of the indiscriminate weapons do hit the ground — and Israeli homes.

Meanwhile, in East Jerusalem there was fresh unrest over the weekend in the neighborhood where tension over efforts to evict Palestinian families to make way for Jewish settlers helped light the spark that grew into the current fighting.

Israel Palestinians
Israeli border police scuffle with protesters in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, where several Palestinian families are under imminent threat of forcible eviction from their homes, May 15, 2021. Mahmoud Illean/AP

Protesters took to the streets over the weekend to commemorate Nakba Day, or "the Catastrophe," which marks what Palestinians see as the destruction of their homeland for the creation of Israel. In 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homes in the Holy City of Jerusalem and other territories to create the modern Jewish state.

The protests were met with a brutal response by Israeli police, who placed concrete blocks on several streets, severing Palestinian neighborhoods. It was another move likely to inflame the already volatile situation.

Jad Hammad is a member of one of the six Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah who Israeli settlers are trying to have evicted so they can move in. He told CBS News that he's re-living the trauma of the 1948 "catastrophe" in real time.

"It's very, very hard, because we had the feeling before, and they are just waking it up," he told Tyab, admitting that he was nervous about the prospect of eviction: "I have kids, I don't know where I'm going to go with them."

International mediation efforts ramped up over the weekend, with pressure increasing on both sides to rein in the violence but little indication that calls for a cease-fire were about to be heeded.

The U.S. delegation to the United Nations has blocked efforts by other nations, including China, Tunisia and Norway, to get a joint statement from the Security Council condemning the violence and calling for a truce.

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