Israel steps up assaults in Gaza with shells, airstrikes

Israel steps up assaults in Gaza with shells, airstrikes

Israel steps up assaults in Gaza with shells, airstrikes

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 following Friday prayers.

Answering the question about Israel's intention to enter the Gaza Strip, the IDF spokesman said that the Israeli Army were ordered to be prepared.

"We are ready and we will continue to prepare ourselves for various scenarios", Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said earlier, specifying that a ground invasion was "one of the scenarios".

Israel's attacks on Gaza follow weeks of violence against Palestinians amid spiking tensions in Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"The US doesn't see that a statement will help de-escalate", said another.

There were intense artillery exchanges Thursday night, and AFP reporters saw Israeli troops assembling at the security barrier.

Balls of flames rose high into the sky after strikes smashed into densely packed Gaza.

"IDF air and ground forces are carrying out strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip", the clarification said.

Renewed rocket fire and rioting in mixed Jewish-Arab towns has fuelled growing fears that deadly violence between Israel and Palestinians could descend into full-scale war.

In Gaza, AFP photographers said people were evacuating their homes in the northeastern part of the enclave ahead of possible Israeli attacks, with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, warning of a "heavy response" to a possible ground incursion.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all sides to commit to a ceasefire out of respect for the ongoing Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Israel's air force launched multiple air strikes, targeting locations linked to Hamas, with the air force saying jets had struck a "military compound" of the group's "intelligence headquarters". More than 2,100 Gazans-mostly civilians, including over 500 children-died during that war, while 67 Israeli troops and six civilians were killed by Palestinians. More than 100 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed and hundreds of buildings across Gaza damaged or in ruins.

Israeli soldiers fire toward the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot
Israeli soldiers fire toward the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot

Palestinian militants have fired some 1,800 rockets and the military has launched more than 600 airstrikes, toppling at least three apartment blocks. Of the 1,800 rockets Gaza militants have fired, more than 400 fell short or misfired, according to the military. The rockets that were fired towards northern Israel came from the vicinity of the Rashidieh refugee camp, Al Jazeera reported.

A source close to Israel's arch-enemy Hezbollah said the Lebanese Shiite group had no link to the incident.

The Israeli police deployed heavy-handed tactics against Palestinian worshippers in and around Al Aqsa Mosque in the last week, on the compound revered by Jews as Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

The latest wave of violent clashes between Israel and the Palestinians, the worst since 2014, was mainly sparked by an Israeli plan to evict some Palestinian families from a neighborhood in the disputed East Jerusalem.

A Palestinian man walks past the remains of a tower building which was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, Gaza City, May 13, 2021.

Almost 1,000 border police were called in to quell the violence, and more than 400 people were arrested.

In turn, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip would continue as long as necessary.

He spoke after consecutive nights of apparent revenge attacks by Arab and Jewish mobs in Lod, Jaffa, Haifa and elsewhere inside Israel.

Mr Netanyahu said the violence was "unacceptable".

"Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews, and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs", he said, adding Israel was fighting a battle "on two fronts".

Starting from the cancellation of financial aid for Palestinians to the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the USA support for Israel, under Donald Trump's administration, showed a clear pro-Israel tendency.

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