06:59 GMT17 June 2021
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    The Israeli military and the Gaza-based Palestinian political and militant group Hamas engaged in the bloodiest conflict since the 2014 Gaza War last month, with the fighting claiming well over 250 lives and injuring thousands more.

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being “pathologically” driven to kill Palestinians even as his tenure as Israel’s leader appears to be running out.

    “Even on his way out, Netanyahu pathologically insisted on filling his quota of innocent Palestinian blood,” Khatibzadeh tweeted on Sunday, accompanying the message with a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) video on the civilian casualties from last month’s flare-up in fighting.
    “Shame on those who effectively aided and abetted Israel’s crimes. Time will come for criminals to be held accountable,” the spokesman added.

    According to UNRWA figures, over 250 people were killed in the 11 days of Israeli military strikes on Gaza, among them 67 children. The Israeli Defence Forces have presented their own figures, suggesting that “200+ terrorists” had been “neutralised” and pointing out that 13 people were also killed in Israel proper after Hamas and its allies fired over 4,300 rockets into the country between 10 and 21 May.

    Last month’s violence, which escalated into rocket and missile strikes following protests and riots inside Israel, began after Palestinians started protesting in East Jerusalem in anticipation of a decision by Israel’s Supreme Court to evict six Palestinian families from the community of Sheikh Jarrah. The Israeli police’s occupation of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – one of the holiest sites in Islam, prompted Hamas to present Tel Aviv with an ultimatum to withdraw its forces from the Temple Mount and Sheikh Jarrah or face consequences. After the ultimatum expired, Hamas began massed rocket strikes, with Israel launching airstrikes inside Gaza.

    Iran, which has not had diplomatic relations with Israel since 1979, expressed support for Hamas throughout the recent flare-up of fighting, and has occasionally listed the group among its "Axis of Resistance" to Israel and the United States.

    Netanyahu’s position as Israel’s prime minister appears to have become untenable last week after Yamina alliance leader Naftali Bennett and opposition figure Yair Lapid announced a deal to form a broad coalition government to oust Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s situation has been uncertain since 2019, with Israelis going to the polls four times in the past two years, only to create governments racked with instability and turmoil, further complicated by a police investigation against the Likud leader over alleged corruption, bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

    On Sunday, Bennett urged Netanyahu to “let go” of power and allow the country to “move forward.” The comments came after Netanyahu suggested that the newly formed coalition poised to unseat him was the result of the “greatest election fraud…in the history of any democracy.” On Saturday, Nadav Argaman, the chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, warned that the current crisis could cause US Capitol-style violence.

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