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40 killed, hundreds injured overnight as Israel & Hamas bombings intensify

Hundreds of missiles have been fired overnight by Israeli and Hamas forces as the Middle East appears once again on the precipice of all-out war.

Six Israelis were killed in the cities of Lod, Ashkleon and Rishon Lezion since Monday, with a further 200 injured, whilst 43 Palestinians have been killed and 300 injured in Gaza.

13 Palestinian children are among the dead, whilst the latest Israeli victims include a 52-year-old father and his 16-year-old daughter whose car was hit by a Hamas rocket in Lod near Tel Aviv.

Lod was also the scene of rioting among Israeli Arabs who are upset about the government’s handling of the al-Aqsa mosque conflict in Jerusalem, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare a state of emergency in the city last night.

Several synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses are thought to have been set on fire during the riots.

Video footage from Israel shows the country’s Iron Dome Defense System intercepting some of the rockets fired by Hamas militants.

The Israeli military has been criticised for demolishing a residential tower in Gaza thought to be used by Hamas, despite issuing warnings to evacuate the building.

Health officials say several civilians died in the attack.

The UN’s peace envoy to the Middle, Tor Wennesland, said the situation was “escalating towards a full-scale war”, whilst chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, said she was watching the developments with “great concern” amid fears of war crimes being committed.

Benny Gantz,the Israeli defence minister said the strikes were “just the beginning”.

“Terror organisations have been hit hard and will continue to be hit because of their decision to hit Israel,” he said.

“We’ll return peace and quiet, for the long term.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said: “If Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it, and if it wants to stop, we’re also ready.”

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