Israel criticised after state Twitter account posts rocket emojis amid airstrikes

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<p>A man walks past the rubble of the Yazegi residential building that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Sunday, 16 May</p> (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A man walks past the rubble of the Yazegi residential building that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Sunday, 16 May

(AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Israel has been criticised after the state's Twitter page posted a series of rocket symbols amid its continuing fighting with Palestinians in Gaza.

An official account, which says it is managed by the foreign ministry, posted hundreds of rocket emojis on Monday.

Israel said the emojis were a reference to the number of rockets fired at its citizens by Hamas.

It said the tweet was an attempt to give observers "some perspective" on recent airstrikes.

Critics argued however, that the posts, which came amid fresh Israeli bombardment of Gaza, were insensitive and cruel.

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A message accompanying the posts read: "Just to give you all some perspective, these [rocket emojis] are the total amount of rockets shot at Israeli civilians.

"Each one of these rockets is meant to kill. Make no mistake. Every rocket has an address. What would you do if that address was yours?"

After Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday signalled the conflict with Gaza’s Hamas rulers would continue, explosions rocked the city from north to south for 10 minutes.

In an assault that was heavier, on a wider area and lasted longer than a series of air raids 24 hours earlier in which 42 Palestinians were killed — the deadliest single attack in the latest round of violence between Israel and the Hamas militant group that rules Gaza.

The earlier Israeli airstrikes flattened three buildings.

The Israeli military said it attacked the homes of nine Hamas commanders across Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, and in the predawn darkness, there was little information on the extent of damage inflicted early Monday.

In total, at least 213 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes so far, including 61 children, with more than 1,400 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Hamas also continued with its attacks, launching rockets from civilian areas in Gaza toward civilian areas in Israel.

One slammed into a synagogue in the southern city of Ashkelon hours before evening services for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, Israeli emergency services said. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli post sparked a backlash from some online.

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Louis Fishman, an associate professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, criticised Israel's diplomatic strategy.

Prof Fishman, author of ‘Jews and Palestinians in the Late Ottoman Era, 1908-1914: Claiming the Homeland’, said Israel "has lost the diplomatic front in this war".

"It is now left to emojis. Really, this is pathetic," he added.

There were critics who called the tweet “sickeningly cruel and vindictive”, “deranged” and “beyond vile” online, while yet others pointed to Israeli actions during the eight day military conflict.

Israel says Hamas has launched more than 3,000 rockets so far targetting the country’s civilian areas, a significant proportion of which have been intercepted.

Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier, have been killed in the ongoing rocket attacks.

Since the escalation began on 10 May, more than 52,000 Palestinians have been displaced and hundreds of buildings destroyed in the Gaza Strip, the UN aid agency said on Tuesday.

US President Joe Biden has backed calls for a ceasefire.

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