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