NABLUS: Palestinian protesters confront Zionist troops at the Hawara checkpoint in the occupied West Bank yesterday during a demonstration in support of those under bombardment in Gaza. - AFP

GAZA CITY: Heavy air strikes and rocket fire in the Zionist-Gaza conflict claimed more lives yesterday as tensions flared in Palestinian "day of anger" protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The UN Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting amid a diplomatic push to end the fighting, as Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed the Zionist entity would continue its military onslaught on the coastal enclave "as long as necessary".

Zionist forces and protesters meanwhile clashed at multiple flashpoints across the occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem, hospitalizing scores after Palestinians took to the streets in solidarity with their besieged counterparts in Gaza. The Zionist entity's intense bombing campaign on Gaza has killed 213 Palestinians, including 61 children, and wounded more than 1,400 people in Gaza in more than a week of fighting against Islamist group Hamas, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

The death toll on the Zionist side rose to 12 when a volley of rockets Hamas fired at the southern Eshkol region killed two Thai nationals working in a factory and wounded several others, police said. Zionist strikes that again sent fireballs, debris and black smoke into the sky have levelled homes and multi-storey towers, cratered roads and left two million Palestinians in Gaza desperate for reprieve.

A convoy of international aid trucks that started rolling into Gaza through a border crossing from the Zionist entity, Kerem Shalom, was halted when the Zionist entity quickly shuttered it again, citing a mortar attack on the area. The UN Security Council session, the fourth since the conflict escalated, was called after the United States, a key Zionist ally, blocked adoption of a joint statement calling for a halt to the violence on Monday for the third time in a week.

US President Joe Biden, having resisted joining other world leaders and much of his own Democratic party in calling for an immediate end to hostilities, told Netanyahu Monday night he backs a ceasefire, but stopped short of demanding a truce. France and Egypt are pushing for a ceasefire deal, while Qatar and Egypt are working through another channel, via the UN.

The conflict risks precipitating a humanitarian disaster, with the UN saying nearly 40,000 Palestinians have been displaced and 2,500 have lost their homes. Fighter jets have hit what the Zionist military dubs the "metro", its term for Hamas's underground tunnels, which the Zionist entity has previously acknowledged run in part through civilian areas.

A strike Monday knocked out Gaza's only COVID-19 testing laboratory, the health ministry said, and the Qatari Red Crescent said a strike damaged one of its offices in the enclave. The rate of positive coronavirus tests in Gaza has been among the highest in the world, at 28 percent. Hospitals in the territory, which has been under Zionist blockade for almost 15 years, have been overwhelmed by patients and there are frequent power blackouts.

Palestinians across the West Bank and in Zionist-annexed east Jerusalem mobilized yesterday for protests and a general strike that shuttered non-essential businesses, in support of those under bombardment in Gaza. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement had called for a "day of anger", a call echoed in Arab and ethnically mixed towns inside the Zionist entity.

The Zionist army said troops came under fire north of Ramallah. It said two soldiers suffered leg injuries and were taken to hospital. In a separate incident, a 25-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead by Zionist troops in Al-Bireh, north of Ramallah, the Palestinian health ministry said. The ministry reported 70 people hospitalized due to clashes with Zionist forces throughout the West Bank, five of them in a serious condition.

Earlier in the day, an assailant who attempted to attack soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron was shot dead. Tensions again flared in east Jerusalem's flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where Palestinian protesters faced off against police, who used stun grenades and "skunk water" cannon to disperse protesters.

The Zionist entity has been trying to contain violence between Jews and Arabs, as well as unrest in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian authorities say Zionist forces have killed 22 Palestinians since May 10. France's President Emmanuel Macron, his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah II held talks yesterday aimed at seeking a ceasefire. Sisi is currently in Paris for summits on Africa while Abdullah joined by video conference, the Elysee Palace said. - AFP