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48 dead in Gaza, 5 dead in Israel as conflict could turn into ‘full-scale war,’ UN warns

GAZA, Palestine / CNN — Violence between Israelis and Palestinians showed no signs of letting up Wednesday, as continued airstrikes and rocket fire prompted the United Nations to warn the situation could escalate into “full-scale war.”

At least 48 people, including 14 children, have died as a result of Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza. More than 300 people have been injured in the attacks, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian health ministry.

A United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process tweeted:

Militants in Gaza have fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel since the latest flareup began Monday afternoon, killing five Israeli civilians and injuring more than 200 others, the Israeli military said Wednesday. Around 130 rockets hit Tel Aviv last night, forcing Israel’s main international airport, Ben Gurion to close.

Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, but several struck Tel Aviv, setting a bus ablaze and killing one Israeli woman. Thousands of Israelis spent the night in bomb shelters.

People in Gaza were in a “state of panic” due to the ongoing Israeli bombardment, said Ashraf al-Qidra, the Palestinian health ministry spokesman in Gaza.

Al-Qidra said Israel had deliberately targeted civilian homes and crowded residential neighborhoods, adding that 43% of the victims of strikes in Gaza were children and women.

The Israeli military said they do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties when carrying out attacks.

On Wednesday, Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz said there was currently “no end date” for the military operation against Gaza.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday night that the group was ready if Israel increased operations.

“If [Israel] wants to escalate, we are ready for it, and if it wants to stop, we’re also ready. If they want to remove their hand over Jerusalem, we’re ready,” he said.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned Wednesday that possible war crimes were being committed as the conflict escalated.

“I note with great concern the escalation of violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in and around Gaza, and the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute,” Fatou Bensouda said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I echo the call from the international community for calm, restraint and a stop to the violence.”

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