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Israel 'is heading for full-scale WAR', UN warns, as clashes between Jews and Arabs spark 'civil war' in one city: 36 Palestinians and five Israelis now dead

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes in Gaza City in the early hours of Wednesday

  • 'Stop the fire immediately. We're escalating towards a full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation,' Tor Wennesland UN Special Envoy to the Middle East Peace Process tweeted
  • Last night's barrages levelled tower blocks in Gaza as death toll rose to 36 Palestinians, including 12 children 
  • Rockets from suspected Hamas strongholds have killed five Israelis, including two women and a child
  • The Israeli military said militants have fired more 1,050 rockets since the conflict began, with 200 falling short
  • Just after daybreak Wednesday, Israel unleashed dozens of airstrikes in the course of a few minutes
  • Two infantry brigades were dispatched to the area of a downed Hamas drone, raising fears of ground invasion 
  • Despite international condemnation for the violence Netanyahu vowed last night to 'step up' attacks An Israeli girl is comforted by her father next to their damaged home in the city of Yehud, central Israel, after it was struck by a rocket from Gaza last night

The United Nations has warned Israel is heading 'towards a full-scale war' as the air force continued pounding the Gaza Strip this morning in retaliation for hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas.

'Stop the fire immediately. We're escalating towards a full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation,' Tor Wennesland UN Special Envoy to the Middle East Peace Process tweeted. 

Barrages levelled tower blocks in Gaza last night as the death toll rose to 36 Palestinians, including 12 children and three women, health officials in the territory said. Another 233 people were wounded.

Rockets from suspected Hamas strongholds have killed five Israelis, including two women and a child. 

Israel says the militants have fired more than 1,050 rockets since Monday, with 200 of them falling short and landing inside Gaza, injuring many of their own, while others have been ripped apart by the Iron Dome defence system.

Just after daybreak on Wednesday, Israel unleashed dozens of airstrikes in the course of a few minutes, targeting police and security installations belonging to Hamas.

The Israeli Defence Forces dispatched two infantry brigades to the area of a downed militant drone, indicating preparations for a possible ground invasion.

Boris Johnson condemned the spiralling conflict this morning, hours after his former counterpart Donald Trump blamed 'weak' Joe Biden for allowing things to escalate.

'I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint,' the Prime Minister said. 'The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties.' 

Despite international condemnation for the bloodshed, the worst since the 2014 war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for ceasefire, vowing last night to 'step up' attacks. 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in turn that 'if Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it'. 

The tensions began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Muslim neighbourhoods ignited protests and clashes with police. On Monday, a riot on Temple Mount left hundreds of Palestinians wounded before Hamas started launching rockets.

A fire rages at an oil refinery in the southern town of Ashkelon which has been heavily targeted by hundreds of Hamas rockets fired since Monday

A fire rages at an oil refinery in the southern town of Ashkelon which has been heavily targeted by hundreds of Hamas rockets fired since Monday

Black smoke billows after a series of Israeli airstrikes targeted Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip early on Wednesday

Black smoke billows after a series of Israeli airstrikes targeted Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip early on Wednesday

A Palestinian woman walks in front of a destroyed building on Wednesday after it was shelled by the Israeli Defence Force

A Palestinian woman walks in front of a destroyed building on Wednesday after it was shelled by the Israeli Defence Force 

Smoke rises during an Israeli air strike on suspected Hamas targets in Gaza City on Wednesday

Smoke rises during an Israeli air strike on suspected Hamas targets in Gaza City on Wednesday

Palestinian rescuers evacuate an elderly woman from a building following Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Wednesday

Palestinian rescuers evacuate an elderly woman from a building following Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Wednesday 

Palestinian women check the damage inside their apartment on Wednesday morning after it was bombed by the Israelis

Palestinian women check the damage inside their apartment on Wednesday morning after it was bombed by the Israelis

Smoke billows from an Israeli bombardment at sunrise on Khan Yunish in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday

Smoke billows from an Israeli bombardment at sunrise on Khan Yunish in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday

A Palestinian father carries his children away from their home to head to a safer neighbourhood after a bombardment warning on Wednesday

A Palestinian father carries his children away from their home to head to a safer neighbourhood after a bombardment warning on Wednesday

A Palestinian man takes pictures of the aftermath of a bombardment on Wednesday morning as a mound of dirt lies in the street beside mangled cars in Gaza City

A Palestinian man takes pictures of the aftermath of a bombardment on Wednesday morning as a mound of dirt lies in the street beside mangled cars in Gaza City 

Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on a tower block in Gaza as it collapses. The destruction of apartment apartment towers was among several tactics used during the 2014 war that are now the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court into possible war crimes. Israel is not a member of the court and has rejected the probe.

Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on a tower block in Gaza as it collapses. The destruction of apartment apartment towers was among several tactics used during the 2014 war that are now the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court into possible war crimes. Israel is not a member of the court and has rejected the probe.

A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunish in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning as Israel's bombardment of Hamas targets continues

A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunish in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning as Israel's bombardment of Hamas targets continues

People gather at the site of a levelled tower block in Gaza City last night after an Israeli airstrike

People gather at the site of a levelled tower block in Gaza City last night after an Israeli airstrike

Display mannequins from a damaged clothing shop are scattered amid the debris outside the heavily-damaged Al-Jawhara Tower in Gaza on Wednesday morning

Display mannequins from a damaged clothing shop are scattered amid the debris outside the heavily-damaged Al-Jawhara Tower in Gaza on Wednesday morning 

An overturned car lies in the street filled with debris after a tower block was levelled in Gaza by Israeli warplanes last night

An overturned car lies in the street filled with debris after a tower block was levelled in Gaza by Israeli warplanes last night

Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on Tuesday night

Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on Tuesday night

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes in Gaza City in the early hours of Wednesday

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes in Gaza City in the early hours of Wednesday

An Israeli girl is comforted by her father next to their damaged home in the city of Yehud, central Israel, after it was struck by a rocket from Gaza last night

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