Israeli ground forces launch attacks on Gaza as fighting escalates

Israeli ground forces launch attacks on Gaza as fighting escalates

Israeli ground forces began launching attacks on Gaza in a widening of hostilities as Israel braced for more internal strife between its Arab and Jewish citizens after Friday prayers.

The IDF said air and ground forces were firing at the Hamas-ruled enclave, although this was not the start of a ground invasion, with troops firing artillery and tank shells from the side. Israeli border.

“I said we would take a very high price from Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement. “We are doing this, and we will continue to do so with heavy force. “

Israel’s Iron Dome missile system intercepted numerous rockets launched from the Gaza Strip

Thousands of Israeli forces along with tanks, armored vehicles and artillery are massing along the border with Gaza, preparing to enter the interior if ordered, in what would be an escalation. extremely important.

Unperturbed, Palestinian militants continued to launch rockets from the strip at Israel until Friday morning.

At least 109 Palestinians have died since the talks began on Monday, including 28 children and 15 women, according to the Gaza health ministry. Palestinian activists said 20 of their fighters were among the dead, although Israeli officials said the figure was much higher.

Nearly half of the deaths occurred on Thursday – the deadliest day yet.

On the Israeli side, seven people were killed, including two children and a soldier.

But it’s a crisis on many fronts, as decades of Israeli-Palestinian trauma erupt into clashes on the streets of many cities inside Israel – with Arabs and Jews, who had lived together peacefully, turning on each other, prompting warnings of a risk of civil war.

Synagogues have been attacked, cars set on fire and people beaten by mobs in the worst internal violence in decades.

New protests could erupt after Friday prayers, with the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City being a potential flashpoint.

It was in this fortified complex – one of Islam’s holiest sites, which is also worshiped by Jews and Christians – that violence between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters on Monday sparked the first wave of rockets from Gaza into Israel which sparked the wider crisis. .

The stranded strip is home to some two million Palestinians who have no way to escape. Pic: Majdi Fathi / NurPhoto / Shutterstock

There is of course also a regional dimension.

On Thursday evening, three rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanon. They landed safely in the Mediterranean Sea in what appears to have been a manifestation of solidarity with Gaza from Palestinian groups in Lebanon rather than the start of a separate offensive.

With so much at stake, frantic diplomatic efforts are underway in an attempt to negotiate a ceasefire.

Egyptian officials have spoken to both sides, as have United Nations officials. The United States sent a high-ranking diplomat to the region and Russian President Vladimir Putin added his voice to those calling on both sides to de-escalate.

In Washington, President Joe Biden said he spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu to quell the fighting, but also backed the Israeli leader by saying “there had been no significant overreaction” .

He said the goal is “to get to a point where there is a significant reduction in attacks, especially rocket attacks that are fired indiscriminately at population centers,” and called the effort of “work in progress”.

The UN Security Council is due to hold its first public session on the situation on Sunday after the United States opposed a public session on Friday, apparently wanting to give diplomacy a little more time to have an effect.

However, as the bombardments between the two sides – of unprecedented intensity – enter their fifth day, there is no clear sign that diplomacy is chilling heads.

The Israel Defense Forces hit nearly 1,000 targets in Gaza, including multi-story buildings, rocket launching sites and Hamas military commanders. But this stranded strip of land is also home to some two million Palestinians who have no way to escape.

Overnight, masses of red flames lit up the sky as deafening explosions from the outskirts of Gaza City woke people up.

The strikes were so strong that people inside the town, several miles away, could be heard screaming in fear, according to the AP news agency.

At the same time, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group, fired nearly 2,000 rockets at Israel. Many were shot down by the country’s air defense system, but some penetrated deep into Israeli territory, including the commercial capital of Tel Aviv, sending families rushing to shelters.


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