Israeli airstrikes demolished a Gaza strip shopping center and office building early Sunday, a day after a fresh round of strikes flattened a 12-story apartment building in Gaza City, in what is marking a tactical turn for Israel's military in the seven-week conflict.
Around 30 people were wounded in the three airstrikes over the weekend, 22 of which were injured in the dramatic bombing of the 44-apartment Al Zafer Tower, which Israel said had doubled as a Hamas command center, according to the Associated Press.
Seven were wounded when airstrikes hit a nearby shopping center and set off a fire that engulfed the dozens of shops inside early today. Fatalities or injuries were not immediately reported after the seven-story Zourab office building was leveled. Both buildings located in the Gazan town of Rafah were militant operational sites, according to the Israeli Military.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Gaza residents on Sunday during his weekly cabinet meeting to evacuate all sites housing Hamas militants or weapons.
"I call on the inhabitants of Gaza to evacuate immediately from every site from which Hamas is carrying out terrorist activity. Every one of these places is a target for us," he said.
On Saturday, the Israeli army issued a warning to Gaza civilians that all sites used by Hamas to launch rocket fire into Israel will be targeted by airstrikes. Israel has blamed Hamas for ongoing civilian deaths because it says the group operates among non-combative residential areas, including in schools and mosques.
Israel has launched around 20 airstrikes since midnight on Saturday, resulting in at least eight fatalities that have been reported by medics and police in Gaza.
The IDF says it has launched around 5,000 rockets, while Hamas has fired close to 4,000 since the start of hostilities.
The Al Zafer Tower is the tallest structure to be destroyed so far in the seven-week old conflict. The shopping and office complex bombings on Sunday also seem to signal a shift in Israeli Defense Force (IDF) tactics toward targeting larger structures.
A senior IDF official told the Associated Press that there was now a broadening of targets and locations housing Hamas operational centers. The unidentified official also said all airstrikes can only be conducted after approval from military lawyers and warning calls to local residents.
On Saturday, Egypt urged Hamas and Israel to return to indirect peace talks in Cairo. Several talks have been held, which has resulted in agreement on both sides to observe a number of temporary ceasefires, the latest of which collapsed on Tuesday.
Hamas maintains it will continue to fight until Israel and Egypt put an end to the blockade on Gaza. Militants continued launching rockets and mortars at Israel, firing more than 100 missiles over the weekend.
On Sunday, three people were wounded when Hamas fired into the Erez border crossing, which provides the main areas of access and exit for aid workers and Palestinian civilians authorized to leave Gaza.
Israel and Egypt maintain that any border deal with Hamas must include assurances that weapons will not cross over into Gaza.
With the unlikely fast resumption of negotiation, officials in Gaza have delayed the start of classes in both UN and state-run schools, which were originally meant to begin Sunday.
The ongoing violence has left more than 2,100 mostly civilians Palestinians dead, according to the United Nations. At least four civilians and 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed, and more than 17,000 homes have been destroyed since the start of the war on July 8.
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