Families search for survivors, scramble for safety amid Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The U.S. is facing pressure to de-escalate the violence, which has led to hundreds of civilian deaths. On Israel's border, some Lebanese and Jordanian protesters support Palestine.
8:38 | 05/18/21

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Transcript for Families search for survivors, scramble for safety amid Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Here is ABC's Matt Gutman. It is a grim task of looking for survivors. Entire families caught in deadly violence, caught in the crossfire between Israel and the worst in seven years. Bringing entire buildings to the ground. Israel says it targeted the house of the leader of the militant group hamas. It's unknown whether he was home at the time, but the family of Riyadh was. He survived but his wife and four of his children did not. Injured and bandaged, tenderly kissing his family one last time. And miraculously, his 7-year-old daughter was pulled from the rubble alive. The father and daughter now recovering side by side. In this latest round of Israeli air strikes and hamas rockets, the violence escalated with unprecedented intensity. The islamic jihad firing rockets at an unprecedented rate. In a single week over 200 Palestinians have been killed, among them 61 children. Over 1400 people wounded. On the Israeli side, 10 killed and 300 wounded. The United States, one of Israel's biggest allies now facing mounting pressure to help de-escalate. And today president Biden expressing his support for a ceasefire, but Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting that the air strikes will continue. Some pointing to this moment as a possible trigger. An intense dispute over the evictions of six Palestinian families from homes in east Jerusalem on land that a group of Israelis say was lawfully purchased over 150 years ago. The case is currently wending its way through Israel's court system. And then two events happening at the same time. One was a significant Muslim holiday, and the other was an Israeli national day. The violent protests that followed spurring hamas to jump into the conflict. In the U.S., Israel's devastating aerial barrage has largely united Republicans. You got to stand with our lies. Israel absolutely has a right to defend themselves. But it has divided Democrats. Israel's security is a national security issue for us there. Is a respect for meeting the needs of the Palestinians. But there is a Palestinian power struggle, and that is about hamas. But do Palestinians have a right to survive? Do we believe that? I do think that the issue of human rights is and should be at the forefront of the discussion, boast domestically and internationally. And to the extent you have a large population of people who are in fact stateless, and in many ways aren't represented in the international community, I think you're going see more and more people push for this idea of a two-state solution. And that's a good thing. Early last week with tensions at a boiling point, hamas, which the United States designates a terrorist organization, began firing rockets into Israel. Israel retaliated with air strikes. Israel says hamas has launched over 3300 rockets at Israel. And this image capturing the moment Israel's iron dome defense system intercepting the incoming rain of rockets. Is a very effective system. But even as effective as it is, it's only 90%. So 10% of the rockets will get through. And as the numbers of rockets have increased in areas such as gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and the effectiveness of the range gets longer, this becomes increasingly more difficult for the Israelis to defend their civilian populations. We visited one of those iron dome batteries. So if this battery weren't here, what would happen? There is no doubt there would be significantly more Israeli casualties and destruction. I'm going give you a sense of what those rocket blasts can do. The rocket landed 20 yards away tw floors down. Now the family here was eating its sabbath meal when the siren sounded. They sprinted to their bomb shelter. They were okay. But the man across the street was killed. In the beginning of the conflict, hamas' prime target had been the tel aviv metro area, home to more than four million people. Sending Israelis racing for one of those rockets packed with a 100-pound warhead hitting this tel aviv suburb. Inside that building, residents climbing the smoke blackened stairwell to pick through their belongings. But sirens blaring, those residents scrambling out, some crying as they entered that shelter. You can hear the rockets pounding right now. You can hear the booms, all of us squeezing into this bomb shelter right now. The shelter stifling about, about 30 people inside, some of them unable to control the tears. It's a feeling that Jillian Daniel and her family have felt before. Has anything changed? No. Jillian, nice to meet you. I first met Jillian back in 2012 right off the gaza border. Rocket-battered ashkelon is one of the hardest hit areas in the country. The family is already so used to the sirens, and like many Israelis, it has its own bomb shelter. What happens to you inside? Just now I felt a jolt of adrenaline. Do you still feel that? You try not to show it for the kids. Is there a sense that this is going to happen again some time soon? Yeah. Now nine years on, as it has every few years, the drill, the siren. The sirens are going. We just going into the bomb shelter. And the hustle for cover. How much more of this can you take? Why? Are we going give up and just -- I don't know. Go. We're not going anywhere. This is our home. But in gaza today where Palestinians still bear the brunt of the death toll, buildings obliterated, homes destroyed. 7-year-old Diana was one of those tens of thousands forced to flee. Diana says they started shooting and I was scared. They kept shooting and shooting and her home was damaged. I didn't know what to do. Israel, aiming to destroy the hamas infrastructure, says it has targeted a one thousand plus mile network of tunnels honeycombing gaza. Those air strikes hitting residential buildings as well. Rescuers pouring over debris piles, looking for signs of life. And beside one of those debris piles was Mohammed hadidi, wailing in anguish. He said his wife and five sons were visiting family at this home when the bombs came. An hour later in a haze of grief, he was led into this hospital where a little miracle awaited. His son OMAR. Israel also receiving international condemnation for an air strike that leveled a tower block housing many international news agencies, including the associated press and Al jazeera. They were given just an hour to evacuate. The world will know less about what's going on in gaza because of what happened today. But Netanyahu defended the move, claiming the building was being used by hamas. Perfectly legitimate target. And I can tell you that we took every precaution to make sure that there were no civilian injuries. Secretary of state Antony blinken saying today while Israel may have sent evidence through intelligence channels, he personally has seen none of it. I've not seen any information provided. Over the past week, the tension metastasizing. In Jordan, hundreds of pro Palestinian protesters pushing towards the Israeli wash washing warning shots fired to keep them from crossing. In Lebanon, protesters setting a fire and penetrating the border one person killed in those clashes. If this continues to expand into those areas, the Israelis will have to defend from multiple fronts. That could increase civilian casualties in this conflict. There has to be discussions that continue on what to do with this much broader issue. But before that, both sides already bracing for the next round.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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