Violence in Israel Shakes Trump’s Boast of ‘New Middle East’

WASHINGTON — It was, President Donald J. Trump proclaimed in September, “the dawn of a new Middle East.”

Speaking at the White House, Mr. Trump was announcing new diplomatic accords between Israel and two of its Gulf Arab neighbors, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

“After decades of division and conflict,” Mr. Trump said, flanked by leaders from the region in a scene later replayed in his campaign ads, the Abraham Accords were laying “the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”

Eight months later, such a peace remains a distant hope, particularly for the Middle East’s most famously intractable conflict, the one between Israel and the Palestinians. In fiery scenes all too reminiscent of the old Middle East, that conflict has entered its bloodiest phase in seven years and is renewing criticism of Mr. Trump’s approach while raising questions about the future of the accords as President Biden confronts what role the United States should play now in the region.

a January 2020 Trump peace plan proposing to create a Palestinian state, on terms heavily slanted toward Israeli demands, the accords intentionally “separated” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Israel’s relations with the Arab world, Mr. Greenblatt said.

They “took away the veto right for the Palestinians for the region to move forward,” he added.

Others noted that, before agreeing to the accords, the U.A.E. extracted from Mr. Netanyahu a pledge to hold off on a potential annexation of swaths of the West Bank, a move that had the potential to set off a major Palestinian uprising. (Trump officials also opposed such an annexation and Mr. Netanyahu might not have followed through regardless.)

Dennis Ross, a former Middle East peace negotiator who served under three presidents, called the accords an important step for the region, but said the violence in Israel’s cities and Gaza illustrated how “the Palestinian issue can still cast a cloud” over Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors.

“The notion that this was ‘peace in our time’ obviously ignored the one existential conflict in the region. It wasn’t between Israel and the Arab states,” Mr. Ross said.

a statement last week, the U.A.E.’s foreign affairs ministry issued a “strong condemnation” of Israel’s proposed evictions in East Jerusalem and a police attack on Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, where Israeli officials said Palestinians had stockpiled rocks to throw at Israeli police.

Last month, the U.A.E. also denounced “acts of violence committed by right-wing extremist groups in the occupied East Jerusalem” and warned that the region could be “slipping into new levels of instability in a way that threatens peace.”

Bahrain and other Gulf states have condemned Israel in similar tones. A statement on Friday from the U.A.E.’s minister of foreign affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, called on “all parties,” not only Israel, to exercise restraint and pursue a cease-fire.

One former Trump official argued that public pressure on Israel by countries like the U.A.E. and Bahrain carry more weight after the accords, coming as they do from newly official diplomatic partners. None of the governments who are party to the accords are playing a major role in efforts to secure a cease-fire, however — a responsibility assumed in the past by Egypt and Qatar.

changed longstanding U.S. policy by declaring that the United States did not consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. (The Biden administration intends to reverse that position once a review by government lawyers is complete.)

Mr. Trump also moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, officially recognizing the city as Israel’s capital, in a move that infuriated Palestinians who have long expected East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future state they establish.

“Trump opened the door for Israel to accelerate home demolitions, accelerate settlement activity,” Ms. Hassan said. “And when that happens and you see Israel acting upon it, that’s when you see the Palestinian resistance.”

Former Trump officials note that expert predictions of a Palestinian eruption during Mr. Trump’s term, particularly after the embassy relocation, never came to pass, and suggest that Mr. Biden’s friendlier approach to the Palestinians — including the restoration of humanitarian aid canceled by Mr. Trump — has emboldened them to challenge Israel.

Even some Trump administration officials said any suggestions that the accords amounted to peace in the Middle East were exaggerated.

“During my time at the White House, I always urged people not to use that term,” Mr. Greenblatt said.

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Tel Aviv, Israel’s Bustling Financial Hub, Shaken as Rockets Rain Down

TEL AVIV — Tel Aviv’s city hall launched a playful social media campaign this month declaring itself a vaccinated city eager to welcome back international travelers on their first post-coronavirus trips abroad.

That was before the rockets began to strike.

During the past week of fighting between Israel and militant groups in Gaza, Tel Aviv has been the target of at least 160 rockets fired out of the Palestinian coastal enclave about 40 miles to the south.

The bombardment of Tel Aviv has been a devastating turn of events for a bustling metropolis that brands itself as Israel’s nonstop party city on the Mediterranean and the financial hub of the country. Over the weekend, incoming alerts and rocket salvos sent crowds of beachgoers running for cover and closed down many of the city’s famed restaurants and bars.

Tel Aviv has been the target of rocket fire in past rounds of fighting, but not with anything like the intensity of the past few days. And while the military says its Iron Dome antimissile defense system intercepts about 90 percent of rockets heading for populated areas, when large barrages are fired, some slip through.

Shahar Elal, 30, an Israeli who was back for a family visit from her current home in Zurich, said she and her mother had rushed to shelter in a protected space behind the kitchen of a beachside cafe as a siren sounded on Saturday afternoon, frightened after being caught off guard.

“Beer in hand, sun lotion on face, we ran,” she said, dropping a wallet along the way. When they emerged, they saw the white smoke trail of a rocket that had fallen into the sea in front of them.

One day last week, during business hours, militants fired about 100 rockets in the direction of Tel Aviv and its environs, saying they were retaliating for Israeli airstrikes against what they described as civilian buildings.

The incoming fire sent close to a million Israelis into bomb shelters and protected spaces. On Saturday, one man, Gershon Franko, 55, was killed by shrapnel after a rocket slammed into the middle of the road outside his apartment in the leafy Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

Often referred to as the “State of Tel Aviv,” this largely liberal, secular beachside city and its metropolitan area have long had a reputation for being somewhat detached from the dangers of the less affluent, more peripheral parts of the country that are close to its volatile borders. Many residents of this city of skateboards, surfing and electric scooters are said to live in a hedonistic bubble.

“It’s a kind of an escape,” said Sagi Assaraf, 31, a medical engineer, explaining the Tel Aviv state of mind while sitting on the beach with a beer and some friends on Sunday, a day after they all had to run from the same stretch of sand looking for cover.

“In the end they are people who just want to live in peace and quiet,” he said, adding, “The explosions shook them out of it.”

He and his friend Ben Levy, 32, a graphic designer who was strumming a guitar, had both performed their obligatory military service in combat units and said they were unfazed by the rocket fire.

Maj. Gen. Uri Gordin, the chief of the military’s Homefront Command, said he believed that more rockets had been fired at the Tel Aviv area on Saturday night than during the 50-day Gaza war in the summer of 2014.

Many residents spoke in sanguine terms of resilience and defiance, saying that showing weakness and fear would hand a victory to the enemy.

“We must remain optimistic and carry on with our routines,” Mr. Levy said.

Even in Ramat Gan, on the block where the deadly rocket struck, shopkeepers and local residents displayed a similar sang-froid.

Menachem Horovitz, who owns a small cafe and bakery on the street and lives just around the corner, was home in the afternoon when he heard the siren followed by a boom that shook the whole house.

He came out to inspect the damage to the bakery. “The police came,” he said matter-of-factly. “I cleaned up and put everything back in place.”

Saturday was Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the flight and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees during the hostilities surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.

By Sunday morning, Mr. Horovitz had replaced the shattered glass in his storefront and was almost sold out of cakes for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot starting at sundown.

A handwritten sign in the window read: “Thank you to the residents of Ramat Gan for your support. The people of Israel live,” punctuated with a Star of David instead of a period or an exclamation mark.

In an apartment block nearby, all the front-facing windows had been blown out. Shrapnel had pierced the fridge at the back of one apartment, like a bullet. The residents had fled, leaving their half-eaten lunch on the table. City officials provided all the inhabitants with temporary accommodation in hotels.

Ms. Elal, the visitor from Zurich, was staying with her family from northern Israel in a holiday rental by the sea, and was back at the beach on Sunday.

“It doesn’t make any sense to stop our lives,” she said. But she added that she had never seen the streets or beaches of Tel Aviv so quiet and empty on a holiday weekend. She said most of her childhood friends who now lived in Tel Aviv had gone back to their parents in the north — an area that used to suffer most from rocket attacks from Lebanon.

Josh Corcos, 30, Shai Asraf, 29, and Yuval Mengistu, an Israeli friend visiting from Mexico, were sitting Sunday at the same beach cafe where Ms. Elal had sheltered the day before. Mr. Asraf had come from Netivot, a town in the south that was the frequent target of rocket attacks from Gaza.

They had been eating French toast and eggs Benedict at an all-day breakfast restaurant when the sirens went off Saturday afternoon. They took cover, came out 20 minutes later and resumed eating, they said.

Some people were panicking more than others, they said.

“We were all in the army, so it doesn’t bother us so much,” Mr. Corcos said of the rocket fire. “But still, you don’t expect it in the middle of breakfast in Tel Aviv.”

That night, Hamas sent a warning that Tel Aviv residents should be back in their homes by midnight. The three men came back to their rented holiday apartment at 11:30 p.m. to wait. At 11 minutes past midnight, the sirens wailed and more salvos of rockets headed for the Tel Aviv area.

“Four days ago, the city was normal and hopping,” Mr. Asraf said. “There’s been a change since the rockets fell. Most people are staying home.”

City officials said they were confident that tourism would bounce back in due course.

But as the sun began to sink into the Mediterranean, the streets of Tel Aviv, usually thronged with revelers, were eerily deserted. The nonstop city had come, at least temporarily, to a stop.

Irit Pazner Garshowitz contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

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Grief Mounts as Efforts to Ease Israel-Hamas Fight Falter

GAZA CITY — Diplomats and international leaders were unable Sunday to mediate a cease-fire in the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel vowed to continue the fight and the United Nations Security Council failed to agree on a joint response to the worsening bloodshed.

The diplomatic wrangling occurred after the fighting, the most intense seen in Gaza and Israel for seven years, entered its deadliest phase yet. At least 42 Palestinians were killed early Sunday morning in an airstrike on several apartments in Gaza City, Palestinian officials said, the conflict’s most lethal episode so far.

The number of people in killed in Gaza rose to 197 over the six days of the conflict, according to Palestinian officials, while the number of Israeli residents killed by Palestinian militants climbed to 11, including one soldier, the Israeli government said.

began last Monday after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem following a month of rising tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in the holy city.

The Israeli Army says its goal is to destroy the military infrastructure of Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave of about two million people that is under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade. Israel blames Hamas for the civilian casualties in Gaza, saying the group hides militants in residential areas.

housed two major international news outlets, The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, after calling the building’s owner and telling him to evacuate tenants. An Israeli strike also killed at least 10 members of the same family in a house in a refugee camp and caused collateral damage to a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders, a medical aid group.

Then on Sunday morning, the airstrike hit Ms. Abul Ouf’s home. Two relatives said that the strike killed two members of her immediate family, at least 12 of her extended family and more than 30 neighbors, and that it left her mother in critical condition.

In a statement, the Israeli Army said it had “struck an underground military structure belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization which was located under the road.” It added: “Hamas intentionally locates its terrorist infrastructure under civilian houses, exposing them to danger. The underground foundations collapsed, causing the civilian housing above them to collapse, causing unintended casualties.”

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, urged restraint on the part of both Hamas and Israel during Sunday’s Security Council meeting, which was called to try to find a way to end the violence.

a day of talks Sunday with key Israeli officials and the Office of the Quartet, which mediates Middle East peace negotiations. He is scheduled to hold similar discussions on Monday with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank but lost control of Gaza in 2007.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has ignited a wave of related violence between Arabs and Jews within Israel itself this past week. That and demonstrations across the occupied West Bank have made analysts wonder whether Palestinians are on the verge of a major uprising, the third since the late 1980s. Protests and clashes were less intense on Sunday after a major crackdown by the police in Israel and by the Israeli Army in the West Bank.

But Arabs and Jews clashed in the Negev desert in Israel’s south, in East Jerusalem and in Lod, a mixed Arab-Jewish city in central Israel. The police response to the civil unrest over the past week has mostly focused on Arabs, following attacks on synagogues that some likened to a pogrom.

On Sunday, an umbrella organization for Arab leaders in Israel appealed to the international community to help protect Palestinian citizens of Israel “from violent attacks and human rights violations by both state and private actors.” The group added, “Palestinian citizens, collectively, are afraid for their lives.”

a case that has galvanized Palestinian national sentiment, setting the stage for the renewed conflict in Gaza.

The weekend’s rocket fire by Hamas and other Islamist militant groups in Gaza included a major barrage over central Israel early Sunday morning.

Most of those rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, an antimissile detection system partly financed by the United States. But where they hit, they brought terror on Israeli residents, particularly in towns like Sderot, close to Gaza’s perimeter.

One blast this weekend destroyed a fifth-floor apartment in Sderot, killing a 5-year-old boy, and ripped a hole in another, where Eli Botera, his wife, Gitit, and their infant daughter, Adele, were huddling in the baby’s bedroom.

“My wife was panicking and started to scream,” Mr. Botera said. “Eventually, it’s all up to God. Every individual must do what they can to protect themselves, but if it’s your destiny to die, you die.”

The deadliest attacks have been in Gaza — and chief among them was the airstrike on Ms. Abul Ouf’s home in Al-Wehda, a busy, wealthy district in Gaza City, full of shops and apartment blocks.

Ms. Abul Ouf was training to be a dentist and lived at home with her parents and siblings, relatives said. By Sunday morning, two were dead and three had been plucked injured from the rubble, relatives said. Ms. Abul Ouf’s father, a supermarket owner, was unscathed, having gone for a nighttime visit to fix a neighbor’s internet.

Ms. Abul Ouf was due to marry Mr. al-Yazji in two months. They last spoke early Sunday as the bombardment began, Mr. al-Yazji said.

“Hide,” he remembered telling her in a text message.

But the message never arrived.

Mr. al-Yazji spent hours on Sunday scouring the rubble for her. Government rescuers heaved away debris, stone by stone, and when they spotted a body, Mr. al-Yazji hurried over, the rubble’s grit and sand caking his feet.

The person was still breathing. But it wasn’t Ms. Abul Ouf.

The Israeli bombardment has forced 38,000 people to seek sanctuary in dozens of U.N. schools, the United Nations said. Gaza now faces power failures at least 16 hours a day, while damage to a desalination plant has threatened the access of about 250,000 people to drinking water, the United Nations said.

Israel’s airstrikes have also stopped all Covid-19 vaccinations and virus testing in the Palestinian enclave and raised the risk of viral contagion as civilians cram into shelters for safety, U.N. officials said.

Standing in the rubble Sunday, Mr. al-Yazji gave up hope of finding his fiancée by the midafternoon. He took a box of her dental equipment from the ruins, a small token to remember her by. Then he left with his brother for the nearby hospital where casualties from the airstrike were being taken.

After every new ambulance arrived, he rushed to its back doors to peer inside and see if Ms. Abul Ouf was lying within. Each time, he walked back disappointed.

After several hours, he went instead to the morgue. And there, lying motionless on a stand, was the body of Shaimaa Abul Ouf.

Mr. al-Yazji emerged hysterical with grief. “Be happy,” he said after identifying her body.

“I swear to God,” he added, “she was laughing.”

Reporting was contributed by Isabel Kershner from Sderot, Israel; Lara Jakes from Washington; Rick Gladstone from New York; Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel; and Adam Rasgon from Tel Aviv.

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Israel and Hamas Fighting Raises Questions about War Crimes

The Israeli missile that slammed into a Palestinian apartment exacted a shocking toll: eight children and two women, killed as they celebrated a major Muslim holiday, in one of the deadliest episodes of the war between Israel and Palestinian militants that has raged for nearly a week.

Israel said a senior Hamas commander was the target of the Friday attack. Graphic video footage showed Palestinian medics stepping over rubble that included children’s toys and a Monopoly board game as they evacuated the bloodied victims from the pulverized building. The only survivor was an infant boy.

“They weren’t holding weapons, they weren’t firing rockets and they weren’t harming anyone,” said the boy’s father, Mohammed al-Hadidi, who was later seen on television holding his son’s small hand in a hospital.

“Oh, love,” he said to his son.

Civilians are paying an especially high price in the latest bout of violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, raising urgent questions about how the laws of war apply to the conflagration: which military actions are legal, what war crimes are being committed and who, if anyone, will ever be held to account.

says it has called off strikes to avoid civilian casualties. But its use of artillery and airstrikes to pound such a confined area, packed with poorly protected people, has led to a death toll 20 times as high as that caused by Hamas, and wounded 1,235 more.

Israeli warplanes have also destroyed four high-rise buildings in Gaza that it said were used by Hamas. But those buildings also contained homes and the offices of local and international news media organizations, inflicting enormous economic damage.

It may not look it, but there are rules to govern the carnage.

The laws of war — a collection of international treaties and unwritten laws, also known as international humanitarian law — govern the behavior of combatants. The killing of civilians is not, of itself, illegal. But combatants must abide by widely accepted principles, Professor Akande said.

Most important, they must discriminate between civilian and military targets, he said. After that, they must weigh the military advantage gained from any potential strike against the damage to civilians that it will cause.

again asserted his “strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself.”

in February announced an investigation into possible war crimes by both Hamas and Israeli soldiers, warned on Friday that both sides in the current conflict could be subjects of future prosecutions.

told the Reuters news agency.

But the criminal court, which Israel and the United States do not recognize, faces a host of political and logistical obstacles, and it could be years before any Israeli or Palestinian is put on trial — if ever.

Other bodies have adjudicated on previous rounds of fighting. In a report published last year, Human Rights Watch said Israel appeared to violate the laws of war when it killed 11 civilians during a flare-up in Gaza in November 2019. Palestinian militants, who fired hundreds of rockets into Israel at that time, also violated the laws of war, the report said.

A spokesman for the Israeli armed forces, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, did not respond to several requests for comment for this article. But Lior Haiat, a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, said that his country did everything possible to minimize civilian casualties, and that the true culprit was Hamas.

“Every one of those missiles that are being launched from the Gaza Strip to Israel is actually a terror attack,” Mr. Haiat said. “But not only that — every one of those missiles is also a war crime.”

said, “The I.D.F. is the most moral army in the world.”

scathing report by Breaking the Silence, an organization of leftist combat veterans, into the conduct of Israel’s army during its last major war against Hamas in 2014, accused the military of operating a “lenient open-fire policy” in Gaza. It said Israeli commanders had called for “brutal and unethical” actions there and encouraged soldiers to behave aggressively toward Palestinian civilians.

The group’s executive director, Avner Gvaryahu, said that the Israeli military did not intentionally set out to kill civilians but that it routinely uses disproportionate force. He pointed to the use of artillery in recent days to hit targets with munitions that can kill anyone in a radius of up to 150 meters, or almost 500 feet.

“It speaks volumes to the fact that we are not doing everything in our power to prevent civilian casualties,” Mr. Gvaryahu said.

Others push back on Israel’s insistence that Hamas is to blame for the civilian casualties because it operates from residential areas. In a densely populated place like Gaza, “there is almost no way to fight from it without exposing civilians to danger,” said Nathan Thrall, author of a book on Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr. Thrall noted that the headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces was in a residential part of Tel Aviv, beside a hospital and an art museum.

Human rights researchers say Hamas strictly controls information about civilian deaths in Gaza to hide its losses and failures.

Although the casualty list provided by the local Ministry of Health — the source for the figure of 192 deaths over the past six days — is generally accurate, they say, Hamas will not say how many of the dead are militants, or were killed by Hamas missiles that fell short and exploded inside Gaza.

But others have found evidence. During the fighting in 2019, Human Rights Watch reported, at least two Palestinian rockets landed inside Gaza, killing one civilian and injuring 16 others.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy about civilian deaths, said Adil Haque, a professor at Rutgers Law School specializing in international law and armed conflict, is that they have become a way for belligerents to show their strength before inevitably agreeing to yet another cease-fire.

“Civilians are trapped between two sides,” he said. “Hamas wants to show it can survive the Israeli onslaught, and Israel wants to show that it is the stronger party.”

“Both sides are able to stop if they want,” he added. “But neither is willing to stop first.”

Vivian Yee and Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting.

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Netanyahu says there is no clear end in sight.

Speaking on CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said there was no clear end in sight to the violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to restore order and quiet,” he said, adding, “It will take some time.”

Mr. Netanyahu defended his nation’s bombing and shelling of Gaza, which Palestinian authorities say has killed at least 192 people, including 58 children. At least 10 people in Israel have died in rocket attacks fired from Gaza, the territory controlled by the militant group Hamas.

Representatives of the United States, Qatar, Egypt and others have tried to broker a cease-fire, so far to no avail.

“If there will be one it will be reached with our conditions, not Israeli conditions,” Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy leader of Hamas, told the Israeli public broadcaster Kan on Sunday. “If Israel does not want to stop, we will not stop.”

The general in charge of Israel’s Southern Command, Eliezer Toledano, told Kan, “it is important we continue to exhaust the campaign that we have entered and deepen the damage being caused to Hamas.”

Israel has faced wide condemnation from international press organizations for blowing up a building on Saturday that housed the offices of international media organizations including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Israeli forces warned in advance of the attack, and there were no casualties reported.

Israeli officials claimed that the building harbored military assets for Hamas. Speaking on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu provided no clear evidence to support that claim, and also did not confirm whether he presented any evidence of this assertion during a conversation with Mr. Biden.

“It’s a perfectly legitimate target,” he said, adding that Israeli forces “unlike Hamas, take special precautions to tell people ‘Leave the building, leave the premises.’”

On the killings of Palestinian children, Mr. Netanyahu pointed the blame at Hamas, saying the organization uses civilians as human shields.

“We are targeting a terrorist organization that is targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians, using them as human shields,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to hit the terrorists themselves, their rockets, their rocket caches and their arms, but we’re not just going to let them get away with it.”

He said Israel does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties. “They’re sending thousands of rockets on our cities with the specific purpose of murdering our civilians from these places,” he said. “What would you do?”

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The U.N. Security Council held its first open meeting on the crisis but took no action.

International pressure to bring an end to the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas militants intensified on Sunday, even as local health officials said an Israeli airstrike in Gaza overnight killed more than two dozen people, the single deadliest attack of the current hostilities.

The dead included women and children, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Rescue workers combed through the rubble of three buildings flattened in the airstrike as the hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians escalated to levels not seen since a 2014 war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was no clear end in sight to the violence. “It will take some time,” he said on CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday.

With the conflict stretching into its seventh straight day, the United States stepped up its diplomatic engagement and the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the conflict in public for the first time. But the council took no action even as member after member decried the death and devastation.

Secretary-General António Guterres was the first of nearly two dozen speakers on the agenda of the meeting, led by China, which holds the council’s rotating presidency for the month of May.

“This latest round of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair, and pushes farther to the horizon any hopes of coexistence and peace,” Mr. Guterres said. “Fighting must stop. It must stop immediately.”

Palestinian and Israeli diplomats, who were also invited to speak at the meeting, used it as a high-profile forum to vent longstanding grievances, in effect talking past each other with no sign of any softening in an intractable conflict nearly as old as the United Nations itself.

Riyad al-Maliki the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, implicitly rebuked the United States and other powers that have defended Israel’s right to protect itself from Hamas rocket attacks, asserting that such arguments makes Israel “further emboldened to continue to murder entire families in their sleep.”

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, who spoke after Mr. Maliki, rejected any attempt to portray the actions of Israel and Hamas as moral equivalents. “Israel uses missiles to protect its children,” Mr. Erdan said. “Hamas uses children to protect its missiles.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said President Biden had spoken with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had also been engaging with his counterparts in the region.

She called on Hamas to stop its rockets barrage against Israel, expressed concerns about inter-communal violence, warned against incitement on both sides and said the United States was “prepared to lend our support and good offices should the parties seek a cease-fire.”

While envoys from all of the council’s 15 members urged an immediate de-escalation, there was no indication of what next steps the council was prepared to take. Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador, told reporters after the meeting had adjourned that he was continuing to work with other members “to take prompt action and speak in one voice.”

Mr. Netanyahu of Israel vowed late Saturday to continue striking Gaza “until we reach our targets,” suggesting a prolonged assault on the coastal territory even as casualties rose on both sides.

In separate calls on Saturday, President Biden conferred with Mr. Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, about efforts to broker a cease-fire. While supporting Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas militants, Mr. Biden urged Mr. Netanyahu to protect civilians and journalists.

Even before Sunday morning’s attack, Israeli airstrikes had intensified over the weekend, with an attack on a house in a refugee camp in Gaza that killed 10 members of an extended family, including women and children, and another that destroyed a high-rise that housed media outlets including The A.P. and Al Jazeera.

Israeli defense officials said the building housed military assets belonging to Hamas and they provided advance warning to civilians in the building to allow evacuation. No casualties were reported in that strike.

At least 192 Palestinians had been killed in Israeli airstrikes and shelling in Gaza, including at least 58 children, according to Palestinian health authorities, and at least 10 people in Israel had died in Hamas rocket attacks.

Over the past week, the 15-member U.N. Security Council met privately at least twice to discuss ways of reducing tensions. But efforts to reach agreement on a statement or to hold an open meeting had faced resistance from the United States, Israel’s biggest defender on the council.

American officials said they wanted to give mediators sent to the region from the United States, Egypt and Qatar an opportunity to defuse the crisis.

But with violence worsening, a compromise was reached for a meeting on Sunday.

Security Council meetings on the Israeli-Palestinian issue have often ended inconclusively and served mainly as a platform for supporters of both sides to air their grievances. But they have also demonstrated the widespread view among United Nations members that Israel’s actions as an occupying power are illegal and that its use of deadly force is disproportionately harsh.

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Live Updates: U.N. Security Council Is Set to Meet on Middle East Violence

streamed live on a U.N. website.

The American ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said in a statement posted on Twitter after the meeting was announced that “the U.S. will continue to actively engage in diplomacy at the highest levels to try to de-escalate tensions.”

Security Council meetings on the Israeli-Palestinian issue have often ended inconclusively and served mainly as a platform for supporters of both sides to air their grievances. But they have also demonstrated the widespread view among United Nations members that Israel’s actions as an occupying power are illegal and that its use of deadly force is disproportionately harsh.

Briefing the Security Council last week in a closed session, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, described the latest violence as “the most serious escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in years.”

Israeli warplanes stepped up their attacks on Sunday morning, launching multiple strikes at a main thoroughfare leading to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, leaving residents trapped under the rubble and killing at least 26 people, including eight children, according to local media reports.

The Israeli Army said that a separate strike destroyed the home of Yehya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, although it was unclear whether he was there.

Sirens wailed early Sunday in Israeli border towns as Hamas rockets were launched into the area, although there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

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Israel Strikes Gaza Tower Housing A.P. and Other News Media

An Israeli airstrike destroyed a prominent building in Gaza City on Saturday that housed media outlets, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. The Israel Defense Forces said it gave an advanced warning for civilians to evacuate.

We are shocked and horrified that the Israelis would target the building that housed A.P.‘s bureau in Gaza. They long knew that A.P.’s bureau was there, and they targeted it. Now, fortunately, we had a warning, and we were able to get our journalists out. We narrowly escaped a huge loss of life. We had 12 journalists in that building. And those brave journalists not only got out, but they were able to salvage much of our equipment because it’s important that we continue to tell this story. You see, that building provided the best vantage point for the world to see the events in Gaza, and now that building is destroyed. And we will work hard to continue to tell the world the important events of Gaza, and we will keep our journalists safe.

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An Israeli airstrike destroyed a prominent building in Gaza City on Saturday that housed media outlets, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera. The Israel Defense Forces said it gave an advanced warning for civilians to evacuate.CreditCredit…Hosam Salem for The New York Times

The prominent 12-story building in Gaza City that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Saturday not only housed the offices of media organizations including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

It also offered a vantage point for the world on Gaza, as A.P. cameras positioned on the roof terrace captured Israeli bombardments and Palestinian militants’ rocket attacks during periodic flare-ups in fighting — including over the past week.

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today,” the A.P.’s president, Gary Pruitt, said in a statement following the Israeli attack.

The leveling of the al-Jalaa tower, which occurred as fighting between Israelis and Palestinians spiraled on several fronts, drew condemnations from across the world. The Israel Defense Forces said that its fighter jets struck the tower because it also contained military assets belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Pruitt called on the I.D.F. to present evidence to support its allegation, adding that the news agency had operated from the building for 15 years.

“We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building,” he said. “This is something we actively check to the best of our ability. We would never knowingly put our journalists at risk.”

On Sunday, the I.D.F. tweeted that the building was “an important base of operations” for Hamas military intelligence, where it “gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper I.D.F. operations.”

The I.D.F. — which frequently accuses Hamas of using civilians as shields — provided advance warning to civilians in the building to allow evacuation. The A.P. reported that the owner of the building, Jawad Mahdi, was “told he had an hour to make sure everyone has left the building.”

In the minutes before the airstrike, Mr. Mahdi was filmed desperately pleading with the Israeli Army, asking them to allow four journalists who had been filming an interview — with the father of four children slain in an Israeli strike on a refugee camp on Saturday morning — an extra 10 minutes to retrieve their belongings.

An Israeli soldier told him: “There will be no 10 minutes.”

Minutes later, the building was destroyed, engulfed in a plume of black smoke.

The A.P. said that it “narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life,” and that a dozen journalists and freelancers inside the building evacuated before the strike. The building also housed apartments on the lower floors.

Press freedom groups said that the strike — coming a day after the Israeli Army erroneously told foreign media that ground troops had entered Gaza — raised concerns that Israel was interfering with independent reporting on the conflict. In a statement, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists questioned whether the I.D.F. was “deliberately targeting media facilities in order to disrupt coverage of the human suffering in Gaza.”

A White House spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, tweeted that the United States had “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility.” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he was “deeply disturbed” by the strike and warned that “indiscriminate targeting of civilian and media structures” would violate international law.

After the strike, journalists from other news organizations gathered near the rubble. Heba Akila, an Al Jazeera journalist who had been broadcasting from the tower when the warning call was made, said: “This is clearly to silence the truth and the voices of journalists.”

As the worst violence in years rages between the Israeli military and Hamas, each night the sky is lit up by a barrage of missiles streaking across the sky and the projectiles designed to counter them.

It is a display of fire and thunder that has been described as both remarkable and horrifying.

The images of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system attempting to shoot down missiles fired by militants in Gaza have been among the most widely shared online, even as the toll wrought by the violence only becomes clear in the light of the next day’s dawn.

“The number of Israelis killed and wounded would be far higher if it had not been for the Iron Dome system, which has been a lifesaver as it always is,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said this week.

The Iron Dome became operational in 2011 and got its biggest first test over eight days in November 2014, when Gaza militants fired some 1,500 rockets aimed at Isreal.

While Israeli officials claimed a success rate of up to 90 percent during that conflict, outside experts were skeptical.

The systems’s interceptors — just 6 inches wide and 10 feet long — rely on miniature sensors and computerized brains to zero in on short-range rockets. Israel’s larger interceptors — the Patriot and Arrow systems — can fly longer distances to go after bigger threats.

The Iron Dome was recently upgraded, but the details of the changes were not made public.

In the current conflict, militants in the Gaza Strip have fired nearly 3,000 missiles, the Israeli Air Force said on Sunday, noting that about 1,150 of them had been intercepted.

A pro-Palestinian protest near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Saturday.
Credit…Gamal Diab/EPA, via Shutterstock

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas stretched into its seventh day, pro-Palestinian demonstrations were held in cities around the world, even as leaders across Europe expressed concern about a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators in Washington marched from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol in protest of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people and what they said was an inadequate response from the United States.

“People think they can be neutral about this. That’s absolutely wrong,” said Alexandra-Ola Chaic, 17, who traveled to the rally from Burke, Va., with her family, which is of Palestinian descent. “We have to do what we can to make this an issue that receives political support.”

The crowd that gathered was diverse in age and background, and included many families with young children.

Ruth Soto, 25, from Northern Virginia, came with her sister to show solidarity with Palestinians. She said the displacement of Palestinians felt personal to her because her family fled war in Central America to come to the United States illegally.

“We’ve seen the struggle, being displaced from your home,” she said. “This is a way we can help them.”

In London, a pro-Palestinian march on Saturday attracted thousands of protesters, and similar demonstrations were held in cities around the world.

At the same time, there was growing concern about a rise in attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions.

France banned a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris, citing the “sensitive” international context and the risk of acts of violence against synagogues and Israeli interests in the French capital.

Paris protest organizers pressed ahead on Saturday despite the ban. The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the rally, which had drawn about 3,000 people, Agence France-Presse reported.

This past week, German protesters attacked synagogues, burned Israeli flags and marched through the streets chanting slurs against Jews.

Felix Klein, a German official tasked with countering anti-Semitism, said: “It is appalling how obviously Jews in Germany are being held responsible here for actions of the Israeli government in which they are completely uninvolved.”

Britain experienced a sharp increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the past week, a charity said on Saturday.

Credit…Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue

The Community Security Trust, a charity that records anti-Semitic threats, said it had received more than 50 reports of Jews across Britain being threatened and verbally abused in the past week — a 490 percent increase from the previous seven days. It said it believed that many more attacks had gone unreported.

Offensive phrases and slogans about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been shouted at Jewish people of all ages, including children, said Dave Rich, the charity’s director of policy. “When the conflict in Israel reaches this level of intensity, we always see increases in anti-Semitic incidents,” he said.

A new round of deadly violence erupted in the Middle East over the past week, as Israeli airstrikes hit targets in Gaza and the militant group Hamas launched rockets at cities inside Israel.

A damaged building in Petah Tikva, Israel, that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.
Credit…Dan Balilty for The New York Times

There is no simple answer to the question “What set off the current violence in Israel?”

But in a recent episode of The Daily, Isabel Kershner, The New York Times’s Jerusalem correspondent, explained the series of recent events that reignited violence in the region.

In Jerusalem, nearly every square foot of land is contested — its ownership and tenancy symbolic of larger abiding questions about who has rightful claim to a city considered holy by three major world religions.

As Isabel explained, a longstanding legal battle over attempts to forcibly evict six Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem heightened tensions in the weeks leading up to the outbreak of violence.

The always tenuous peace was further tested by the overlap of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with a month of politically charged days in Israel.

A series of provocative events followed: Israeli forces barred people from gathering to celebrate Ramadan outside Damascus Gate, an Old City entrance that is usually a festive meeting place for young people after the breaking of the daily fast during the holy month.

Then young Palestinians filmed themselves slapping an ultra-Orthodox Jew, videos that went viral on TikTok.

And on Jerusalem Day, an annual event marking the capture of East Jerusalem during the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, groups of young Israelis marched through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter to reach the Western Wall, chanting “Death to Arabs” along the way.

Stability in the city collapsed after a police raid on the Aqsa Mosque complex, an overture that Palestinians saw as an invasion on holy territory. Muslim worshipers threw rocks, and officers met them with tear gas, rubber-tipped bullets and stun grenades. At least 21 police officers and more than 330 Palestinians were wounded in that fighting.

Listen to the episode to hear how these clashes spiraled into an exchange of airstrikes that has brought Israeli forces to the edge of Gaza — and the brink of war.

The Daily Poster

Listen to ‘The Daily’: The Israeli-Palestinian Crisis, Reignited

Rockets, airstrikes and mob violence: Why is this happening now, and how much worse could it get?

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