Israeli ground troops attack Gaza as air force bombards targets and officials order EVERYONE living within miles of the border to go to bunkers – after tit-for-tat death toll climbed to 110 including dozens of children
- The Israel Defense Force tweeted tonight: ‘IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip’
- A military spokesman added that ‘there are ground troops attacking in Gaza, together with air forces as well’
- Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘The last word was not said and this operation will continue as long as necessary’
- It is not clear if the offensive is to destroy rocket sites or Hamas leaders or an extended campaign to invade
- Israel called up 9,000 reservists to bolster its forces as it deployed troops to the Gaza border for the assault
Israeli ground troops have attacked Gaza as its air force bombarded targets and officials ordered everyone living within miles of the border to go to bunkers amid fears of fierce retaliation from Hamas.
The Israel Defense Force tweeted from its official account on Thursday night: ‘IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.’
Military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus confirmed: ‘There are ground troops attacking in Gaza, together with air forces as well.’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted moments later: ‘I said that we would charge a very heavy price from Hamas. We do it and we will continue to do it with great intensity. The last word was not said and this operation will continue as long as necessary.’
It is not yet clear whether the offensive was to destroy rocket sites or Hamas leaders or part of an extended campaign to invade Gaza.
Earlier Israel called up 9,000 reservists to bolster its forces as it deployed troops to the border in preparation for the ground assault.
Relentless air strikes continued to decimate Hamas strongholds in the Strip on Thursday as their brigades held funerals for slain commanders, including the terror boss of Gaza City and their intelligence chief.
Meanwhile three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon towards northern Israel but reportedly fell into the Mediterranean without injuring anyone.
Local media said they were fired by one of the Palestinian factions in Lebanon and that it was not the start of Hezbollah getting involved in the conflict.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is facing the prospect of a war on two fronts as internal rioting by Jewish and Arab mobs descended into ‘lynchings’ in the worst civil unrest for decades.
Hamas requested a ceasefire on a ‘mutual basis’ late on Wednesday after firing more than 1,600 rockets into densely populated Israeli neighbourhoods, killing seven civilians including a five-year-old boy.
Netanyahu rejected the peace offering despite growing international alarm at the rising civilian death toll after over 600 air strikes on Hamas targets – 103 Palestinians have been killed, including 27 children and 11 women.
Israeli soldiers fire an American-designed 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday. It comes amid a build up of troops at the border in preparation for a possible ground invasion of the Strip
Israeli troops take cover from their bombing position as an M109 howitzer shells the Gaza Strip on Thursday
An Israeli tank crewman picks up a shell to load into the M109 howitzer during barrages on the Gaza Strip on Thursday
An Israeli artillery unit fires toward targets in Gaza Strip, at the Israeli Gaza border
Israeli troops lay down in a field during action outside the town of Sderot in southern Israel during the Gaza bombing campaign
Palestinian paramedics rescue the body of a dead person found in the rubble of a collapsed house belonging to the al-Tanani family, destroyed following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip
Palestinians gather to pray around the bodies of 13 Hamas militants, killed in Israeli air strikes, during their funeral in at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City
Smoke billows from an explosion as another air bomb (top) falls during an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip
Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon
A ball of fire engulfs a tower block in Gaza City early on Thursday morning as Israel presses forward with its campaign against Hamas. ‘The campaign is still far from over,’ a cabinet minister said after last night’s meeting with Netanyahu. ‘Whatever we don’t do now, we will have to do in six months or a year from now.’
A missile is seen heading for a tower block in Gaza on Wednesday, left; and an explosion rises into the sky in the early hours of this morning, right
A colossal explosion erupts as an Israeli bomb blows apart a Hamas target in Gaza City on Thursday. The pattern of the smoke and debris flying through the air suggests use of a bunker buster bomb, used to destroy the vast underground networks used by the Islamist militants
An Israeli AH-64 Apache attack helicopter releases flares near Sderot, in southern Israel on the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip
A Palestinian protester hurls a Molotov cocktail at Israeli police forces in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday night as internal violence threatens to plunge Israel into a war on two fronts
Fireworks explode on the streets of Hebron in the West Bank as Palestinians riot against Israeli forces in solidarity with their brethren in the Gaza Strip
A sequence of images shows the moment an Israeli missile speeds towards a Hamas target in Gaza City on Thursday
Debris and shrapnel flies through the air as the bomb explodes on a suspected Hamas compound in Gaza City on Thursday
Palestinians gather to pray around the bodies of 13 Hamas militants, killed in Israeli air strikes, during their funeral in at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City, on Thursday
Israeli mourners attend the funeral of Israeli soldier Omer Tabib, 21, in Elyakim in northern Israel, on Thursday. Tabib was killed by an anti-tank missile near the border yesterday
Smoke from an Israeli air strike climbs into the skies over Gaza City on Thursday as bombardments hit Hamas targets
Israeli security force members patrol during a night-time curfew following violence in the Arab-Jewish town of Lod on Wednesday night following riots in the city
Israeli Arabs gather next to a mosque during clashes between Jews, Israeli police and Arabs, in the mixed town of Lod, central Israel on Wednesday
A column of thick black smoke rises from a compound in Gaza City on Thursday as the Israeli bombing campaign continues undeterred by Hamas peace efforts
An Israeli JDAM missile plummets towards a compound in Gaza as the bombardments continue on suspected Hamas targets. JDAM (or Joint Direct Attack Munition) is a guidance kit that converts unguided (‘dumb’) bombs into precision-guided munitions equipped with GPS and inertial guidance technology
Gaza’s death toll passes 100 with 27 children and 11 women killed, officials say
Gaza’s Health Ministry said the death toll has climbed to 103.
Palestinians, including 27 children and 11 women, with 530 people wounded. Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven militants, while
Hamas has acknowledged 13 of its militants killed, including a senior commander. Israel says the number of militants dead is much higher.
Seven people have been killed in Israel. Among them were a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child hit in a rocket attack.
Troops were ordered to the Gaza border on Thursday in ‘various stages of preparing ground operations’, a military spokesman said, a move which recalls similar incursions during Israel-Gaza wars in 2014 and 2008-2009.
The IDF had said an infantry assault was just ‘one scenario’ which was being considered as it deployed several units to the border, including the Paratroopers Brigade, Golani Infantry Brigade and 7th Armoured Brigade.
‘The campaign is still far from over,’ a minister said after a cabinet meeting last night with Netanyahu. ‘Whatever we don’t do now, we will have to do in six months or a year from now.’
He told Israeli news site Ynet: ‘When we have hit all our targets and the other side has still not surrendered, we will launch a ground operation even though we do not seek it.’
Plans for the ground invasion were earlier being drafted for approval by Israeli Defence Force Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Aviv Kohavi later on Thursday, according to the Jerusalem Post. If they get the General’s sign off, the plans will be passed on to Netanyahu and his cabinet.
‘This will not end in the next few days,’ the cabinet minister added. ‘Israel will not stop and has no interest in stopping.
‘It is all moving in the right direction. We will act until they admit that opening fire was a mistake, just as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah did after the Second Lebanon War in 2006.’
As Joe Biden and Boris Johnson made appeals for calm yesterday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a forceful partisan condemnation – saying that Israel needed to be taught a ‘lesson’.
He told Russia’s Vladimir Putin during a phone call of the need for ‘the international community to give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson’ as he called on the UN to intervene with a ‘determined and clear message.’
The appeals fell on deaf ears this morning as Israel and Hamas exchanged cross-border blows throughout the early hours of Thursday – sending Israelis fleeing into air raid shelters, while Palestinians evacuated their apartments.
Among the high-ranking commanders ‘neutralised’ in strikes on Wednesday were Brigadier General Bassem Issa, chief of the Gaza City Brigades, and Jamal Zabda, head of the group’s rocket unit and responsible for the improved accuracy of their projectiles.
The IDF says it has launched strikes on 650 targets, including militants, infrastructure, missile-launch sites, central banks and administrative buildings key to maintaining power in the Strip.
Brigadier General Hidai Zilberman told reporters early Thursday: ‘Tonight we started destroying government targets in the Gaza Strip, such as central banks and internal security buildings. Hamas is beginning to discover cracks and there is pressure in the organization, even among the Gaza public who is losing its patience and sees these ruins on the eve of the holiday (Eid).’
Three tower blocks have been levelled in assaults by the Israel Air Force and the Islamists’ network of underground tunnels has been decimated by bunker buster bombs.
As well as high-ranking commanders, the IDF say they have killed another 60 Hamas militants.
Funerals for 14 slain Hamas members, including the terror chief Issa, were held at the Omari Grand Mosque in Gaza City on Thursday.
Hundreds of men were seen walking through the streets with the bodies draped in the green flags of Hamas as sobbing women and children watched from windows and balconies.
At the same time, in the Israeli settlement of Eliakim, hundreds of family members and comrades attended the funeral of 21-year-old soldier Omer Tabib.
Tabib was killed close to the border with Gaza on Wednesday by an anti-tank missile fired at his jeep.
‘Omer, my beautiful child, six years we waited for you and the patience paid off – we received a beautiful child with an eternal smile on his face,’ his mother Tali said, according to Haaretz.
‘I refuse to believe that instead of a blessing for your [finishing the army], I’m searching for words to summarise the period of your life. I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to do it. In my blackest dreams I never thought I’d reach this point. Omer, my beautiful child, give us the strength to know how to continue on.’
The fighting has sparked violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Israel, in ugly scenes which have not been witnessed for more than 20 years amid fears of a civil war.
Netanyahu speaks to border police who have been deployed to the city of Lod to help keep the peace as Israel imposed a curfew following two nights of rioting
Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system is activated to intercept a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip
A man is seen walking down a street in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, unaware of a bomb about to explode on a compound behind him
The explosion is seen erupting as the man starts to hurry down the road in Rafah before he disappears from view in the massive dust cloud
Nine high-ranking commanders and other senior Hamas figures have been neutralised since Monday, including Brigadier General Bassem Issa and Jamal Zabda, head of the group’s rocket unit, according to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF)
Women and children watch the funeral procession for Hamas military chief of Gaza City Bassem Issa on Thursday
Relatives and Palestinians carry the body of Hamas terror chief Bassem Issa, killed a day earlier in an Israeli air stike, through the steets of Gaza City on Thursday
The body Hamas military chief Issa is borne through the streets of Gaza City, where he led Hamas’s Gaza City Brigades in the fight against Israel
Palestinians carry the bodies of Hamas militants, who were killed by Israeli forces, during their funeral in Gaza City on Thursday
The body of a Hamas militant is carried through the streets of Gaza City on Thursday as residents braced for more bombardments
Militants wrapped in the green flags of Hamas are laid inside the Omari Grand Mosque during their funeral in Gaza City on Thursday
Jewish and Arab mobs engage in nightly riots amid fears that ‘lynchings’ could lead to Israeli civil war
Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday ordered a ‘massive reinforcement’ of security forces to quell mob violence across the country, where police stations have been attacked and people savagely beaten on both sides.
Coinciding with the aerial bombardments is surging violence between Arabs and Jews inside Israel.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that violence was at a nadir not seen for decades and that police were ‘literally preventing pogroms from taking place’.
Hundreds were protesting in the Arab town of Kafr Kassem in central Israel, burning tires and torching police vehicles, he said.
He added that nearly 1,000 border police were called in to quell the violence, and that more than 400 people had been arrested.
On Wednesday night, Israeli far-right groups took to the streets across the country, clashing with security forces and Arab Israelis.
Police said they had responded to violent incidents in multiple towns, including Lod, Acre and Haifa.
Israeli television Wednesday aired footage of a far-right mob beating a man they considered an Arab until he lay unconscious on his back in a street in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv.
‘The victim of the lynching is seriously injured but stable,’ Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said, without identifying him.
A state of emergency has been declared in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, where an Arab resident was shot dead and a synagogue has been torched.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, in unusually strong language, denounced what he described as a ‘pogrom’ in which ‘an incited and blood-thirsty Arab mob’ had attacked sacred Jewish spaces.
Twenty were injured last night as mobs attacked each other in the central city of Lod which has been the epicentre for the troubles despite a curfew imposed earlier this week and a state of emergency declared by Netanyahu.
Israeli police said two people were shot and wounded while an Israeli Jew was stabbed on his way to the synagogue by a Muslim Arab on Thursday morning despite the deployment of additional security forces.
Dozens of people were arrested there and in other towns across Israel where clashes and rioting broke out.
A Jewish man was left in intensive care after being beaten with metal bars and rocks by an Arab gang in the northern city of Acre.
In Jerusalem, a 25-year-old Arab employee was set upon by a gang of Jews while taking out the rubbish. He was stabbed in the neck and remains in hospital, according to the Israel National News.
In the coastal city of Bat Yam, less than ten miles from Lod, Israeli nationalists attacked an Arab motorist, dragging him from his car and beating him until he was unconscious.
‘The victim of the lynching is seriously injured but stable,’ Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said, without identifying him.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who celebrated a Ramadan ‘iftar’ meal just weeks ago, on Wednesday condemned what he termed a ‘pogrom’ by a ‘blood-thirsty Arab mob.’
‘The sight of the pogroms in Lod and the disturbances across the country by an incited and bloodthirsty Arab mob, injuring people, damaging property and even attacking sacred Jewish spaces is unforgivable,’ Rivlin said in an unusually strongly-worded statement on Wednesday.
Netanyahu said that ‘what has been happening these last few days in Israeli towns is unacceptable.’
‘Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews, and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs,’ he said, adding that Israel was fighting a battle ‘on two fronts’.
Netanyahu warned that he was prepared to use an ‘iron fist if necessary’ to calm the violence
Yesterday Mr Johnson tweeted a plea for Israel and Hamas to ‘step back from the brink’ and ‘show restraint’.
He added: ‘The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties and we want to see an urgent de-escalation of tensions.’
His calls were backed up by similar messages from the EU, the US, Russia and Turkey.
British Airways on Thursday joined a raft of other international airlines in cancelling routes to Tel Aviv as the conflict saw no signs of abating.
Family and friends, including Israeli soldiers, mourn during the funeral of Israeli soldier Omer Tabib, a 21-year-old killed by a missile close to the border on Wednesday
elatives and friends mourn during the funeral of first sergeant Omer Tabib on Thursday
A comrade of Tabib cries beside his coffin during the funeral in Elyakim on Thursday after he was killed by an anti-tank missile from Gaza
Comrades of 21-year-old Omer Tabib mourn over his coffin in the town of Elyakim in Israel on Thursday
A soldier wipes away a tear in the foreground as friends and family of Israeli soldier Omer Tabib mourn him at his funeral in Elyakim today
Comrades of Omer Tabib mourn at the 21-year-old’s funeral in Elyakim, Israel, on Thursday
A funeral is held at Omari Grand Mosque for 14 Hamas militants killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, at Omari Grand Mosque in Gaza City
Hamas members are carried through the Omari Grand Mosque in Gaza during their funeral on Thursday
‘The safety and security of our colleagues and customers is always our top priority, and we continue to monitor the situation closely,’ British Airways said.
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines on Wednesday all cancelled flights between the United States and Tel Aviv.
The UN’s Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland on Wednesday warned the latest violence was ‘escalating towards a full-scale war’. And UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said he was ‘gravely concerned’ by the ongoing troubles.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired more than 1,000 missiles in the first 48 hours of the conflict which began on Monday, an average of one every three minutes, and has enough to keep the bombardment going for two months.
Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said: ‘According to our estimates we’re talking about between 20,000 and 30,000 rockets in Gaza today, rockets and mortars.
‘We’ve seen a constant expansion in terms of range and also in terms of the size of the warheads. They have an advanced arsenal of rockets, I think it’s on a par with the fire capabilities of a few small European countries.’
A fire ball spews from a tower block in Gaza City on Thursday as Israel’s offensive against Hamas enters its fourth day
An Israeli firefighting plane extinguishes a fire on a field of wheat after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed near homes in Moshav Zohar, Israel
Palestinians gather to survey the damage to a wrecked block of apartments on Thursday in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City on Thursday after Israeli air strikes that have decimated the Hamas command structure since Monday
Smoke rises after Israeli fighter jets conducted airstrikes in Gaza City on Thursday
Rockers are launched from the Gaza Strip as the cross-border conflict continues to rage. Many of the Hamas rockets fail and land in their own territory, wounding Palestinian people, the IDF says
Smoke rises in Gaza City on Thursday following a fresh Israeli bombardment of suspected Hamas strongholds in the territory
Palestinian youths take pictures with their smart phones of a huge crater on a main road in Gaza City on Thursday morning after Israeli bombardments throughout the night
Members of Sror family inspect the damage of their apartment in the Israeli town of Petah Tikva after it was struck by a Hamas rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Wednesday night
While Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system has intercepted nine out of ten Palestinian rockets, the remainder have killed at least six civilians and injured more than 90. Families in Tel Aviv spent most of yesterday taking cover in underground shelters.
Israel’s retaliation has included hundreds of air strikes on Gaza, led by F-35 stealth bombers and Apache attack helicopters, which are understood to have killed 32 and wounded more than 300.
Israel says most of the dead were terrorists and insists the children killed were victims of stray Palestinian rockets.
The UN security council met yesterday to discuss the crisis. The heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in the Hamas-ruled enclave has increased international concern the situation could spiral out of control.
‘Israel has gone crazy,’ said a man on a Gaza street, where people ran out of their homes as explosions rocked buildings.
Israel’s army on Thursday said it had received a rocket warning in the north of the country, the first time the alert has been given there since hostilities soared between Israel and Palestinians earlier this week.
Smoke and fire rises into the sky over Gaza City this afternoon as the relentless shelling of Hamas targets in the Strip continues
A block of flats in the Israeli town of Petah Tikva after it was struck by Hamas rockets overnight
Members of Sror family inspect the damage of their apartment after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip overnight, in Petah Tikva, central Israel
A Palestinian man looks at the destruction of a building on Thursday hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City
A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunish following an Israeli airstrike on targets in the southern Gaza strip, early on May 12, 2021. – Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip have hit the homes of high-ranking members of the Hamas militant group, the military said Wednesday, with the territory’s police headquarters also targeted
Israeli artillery in action as the escalation continues between Israeli army and Hamas at the Gaza Border, Israel, 12 May 2021. At least 70 people have been killed in the conflict, including around 16 children
Pictured: Palestinians leave their neighbourhood to head to a safer location as Israeli warplanes continue air strikes on Gaza Strip, in Gaza City, Gaza on May 12
Palestinians walk home after performing Eid al-Fitr prayers on Thursday amidst debris near the al-Sharouk tower, which housed the bureau of the Al-Aqsa television channel in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip
An Israeli man checks the damages after a rocket attack from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, on Thursday
The approximately 1,500 rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas militants since Monday had so far set off warnings in southern and central Israel, but not in the north, the army said.
However in the small hours of Thursday morning, alarms not only sounded in the economic capital Tel Aviv in the middle of the country – where residents rushed to shelters – but also in Jezreel Valley in the north.
There was no immediate word of a rocket strike or casualties in Nahalal, some 62 miles.
Since hostilities escalated on Monday evening, Hamas has fired around 1,500 rockets from Gaza into Israeli territory, according to the latest estimate by Israel’s army.
The launch of around 350 rockets had failed, while hundreds more were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, the army said.
Seven people in Israel have been killed by the onslaught, including a six-year-old and a soldier.
Rockets are launched from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, towards Israel on Wednesday night
Men look at rubble in Gaza City on Wednesday as smoke spews from a fresh bombardment by the Israelis
The ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday
People gather to look at the damage to an apartment building in the northern Gaza Strip following air strikes on Thursday
Palestinians walk along a destroyed road following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City on Thursday
The remains of a tower block is seen in Gaza City on Thursday after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes
Unrest has been growing in Israel and Gaza in recent weeks following violent confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem and a long-running dispute over the eviction of Palestinian families from East Jerusalem in favour of Jewish settlers.
The UN Security Council held another emergency meeting on Wednesday on worsening hostilities, again without agreeing on a joint statement due to opposition from the United States, Israel’s key ally, diplomats said.
According to several sources, 14 of the 15 members of the Council were in favour of adopting a joint declaration aimed at reducing tension.
However, the United States saw the Security Council meeting as a sufficient show of concern, diplomats told AFP on condition of anonymity, and did not think a statement would ‘help de-escalate’ the situation.
‘The United States has been actively engaged in diplomacy behind the scenes with all parties, and across the region, to seek to de-escalate the situation. At this stage, a Council statement would be counterproductive,’ said one source familiar with discussions, also speaking anonymously.
A new meeting – this time public – could be held within days, however.
Israelis take cover as rockets are fired from Gaza and bomb sires sound today amid attacks by Hamas
Netanyahu vows to ‘inflict blows that Hamas has not dreamed of’ before Israeli air strike levels 14-storey building and Hamas retaliates with 130 rockets
Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday threatened to ‘inflict blows that Hamas has not dreamed of’ before Israeli rockets levelled a 14-storey tower bloc, prompting Hamas to retaliate with 130 rockets of its own, as the deadly fighting in the middle east continued on Wednesday.
Israeli fighter jets dropped two bombs on the 14-storey Al-Sharouk tower, which housed the bureau of the Al-Aqsa television channel, and is the third tall structure in Gaza City levelled since the bombing campaign began Monday.
The Israeli Prime Minister issued the threat as he visited a hospital in the city of Holon today, paying tribute to those wounded in fighting between the two sides that is now at its worst point since the 2014 Gaza War.
Referencing the deaths of Hamas commanders earlier in the day – including Brigadier General Bassem Issa and Jamal Zabda, head of the group’s rocket unit – Netanyahu vowed: ‘This is only the beginning.’
Another multi-storey building was destroyed in Gaza on Wednesday evening by an Israeli air strike, prompting Hamas to retaliate with 130 rockets of its own, as the deadly fighting in the middle east continued on Wednesday. Pictured: Smoke rises from Al-Sharouk tower hit by an Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City on May 12, 2021
Smoke and flames rise after Israeli fighter jets conducted airstrikes over Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Thursday as Israel pressed ahead with a fierce military offensive in the Gaza Strip
Heavy smoke and fire rise from Al-Sharouk tower as it collapses after being hit by an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City on May 12, 2021. An Israeli air strike destroyed a multi-storey building in Gaza City today
Pictured: Rescuers and people gather in front of the debris of Al-Sharouk tower that collapsed after being hit by an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City, on May 12, 2021
Israel diverts flight from Ben Gurion to southern airport after US airlines suspend flights to country
Israel diverted an incoming flight from Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday to a southern airport designed to serve as a wartime alternative to its main international gateway outside Tel Aviv, aviation tracker Avi Scharf said on Twitter.
The El Al Israel Airlines flight 332 was en route to land at Ramon Airport near Eilat, said Scharf, an editor with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said. Online data suggested the flight had come from Brussels.
It came after United States airlines – American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines – suspended flights to Israel through Thursday amid rising violence in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.
Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza, and Palestinian militants in Gaza fired rockets at targets in Israel, including the main airport in Tel Aviv.
American Airlines cancelled its daily flight from New York to Tel Aviv on Wednesday and Thursday and offered to put passengers on flights at later dates, according to an airline spokesman.
United cancelled flights from Chicago, Newark and San Francisco, and Delta cancelled flights from New York to Tel Aviv.
Company representatives said the airlines were monitoring the situation for when they might resume the flights.
His comments came despite international calls for urgent deescalation and as Israel braces for more missile strikes overnight to avenge the deaths of its commanders.
In just two days of fighting, Hamas has fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel, while the Jewish state has carried out counter-strikes against what it called military targets.
But the civilian death toll is quickly mounting, with at least 67 Palestinians including 16 children and three women killed as of Wednesday evening, alongside seven Israelis including one child and one soldier.
Israeli police announced Wednesday they are imposing a nighttime curfew on the central city of Lod, that was the scene of unrest in recent days
Police said in a statement that officers would enforce the ban on people entering Lod, residents leaving their homes, and people in public spaces starting at 8 p.m.
Lod has seen two nights of violent protests, including the torching of dozens of vehicles, a synagogue, and violent clashes between Arab protesters and police. Israeli authorities declared a state of emergency in the city and deployed Border Police forces.
Hamas has confirmed that Bassem Issa, commander of its Gaza City Brigade, was among those ‘martyred’ today.
Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, named another three slain Hamas officers: Jamaa Tahla, responsible for the improved accuracy of the group’s rockets; Jamal Zabeda, chief of ‘special projects’ in the munitions department; and Hazzem Hatib, head engineer in the munitions wing.
The militants have launched more than 1,050 rockets at Israel since Monday, killing six civilians, including an Arab-Israeli girl in the city of Lod in the early hours of this morning.
‘The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce,’ Defence Minister Benny Gantz said today from the southern town of Ashkelon where two Israeli women were killed by Hamas rockets on Tuesday.
Along the Gaza border, an Israeli soldier was also killed by an anti-tank missile, the military said.
Rockets are launched towards Israel from Rafah, in the southern the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 12, 2021
An Israeli artillery unit fires toward targets in Gaza Strip, at the Israeli Gaza border, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, as the IDF ramps up its operation against Hamas
Smoke and fire rise above buildings in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, during an Israeli air strike, on May 12, 2021
Britain, the United States and Russia among international voices calling for de-escalation in Israel-Gaza conflict
Calls for deescalation of the conflict have come from senior politicians around the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia.
Washington announced that it planned to send an envoy, Hady Amr, for talks with Israel and Palestinians.
‘My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself,’ Biden said on Wednesday after speaking to Netanyahu.
Biden did not explain the reasons behind his optimism. Netanyahu’s office said he told the U.S. president that Israel would ‘continue acting to strike at the military capabilities of Hamas and the other terrorist groups active in the Gaza Strip’.
Biden’s British counterpart Boris Johnson Boris condemned the spiralling conflict, saying he was ‘urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint’ on Wednesday morning.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for an urgent meeting of the Middle East Quartet in order to halt violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Pictured: Rockets fired from Gaza fly towards Israel, as seen from Gaza City, 12 May 2021
Ms Psaki said that the Biden administration has ‘had more than 25, high level calls and meetings by senior US officials with senior officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and their partners and other stakeholders.
‘A lot of it is happening, privately through diplomatic channels, it’s happening with officials in the region we’re in regular dialogue, multiple times per day as I noted with the Egyptian and Qatari officials, who have significant influence over Hamas – and our objective here is descalation as we look to protecting the people to reach out.’
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has called Netanyahu to reaffirm America’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks.
The country’s State Department said he also repeated U.S. calls for a de-escalation of violence and the Biden administration’s belief that both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in safety and security.
Blinken announced earlier he was sending a senior diplomat to the region to make similar appeals in person to Israeli and Palestinian officials. He also said that Israel had an ‘extra burden’ to avoid civilian casualties as it responds to the attacks.
According to the State Department, Blinken also told Netanyahu that as he and President Joe Biden have said in the past, the administration believes Israelis and Palestinians should ‘enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy.’
He also ’emphasised the need for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security, as well as enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy,’ in an apparent effort for the Biden administration to demonstrate that it cares about Palestinian rights, according to Politico.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wants to see an ‘urgent de-escalation of tensions’ between Israel and Hamas amid the most severe outbreak of violence since the 2014 Gaza war.
Black smoke billows after a series of Israeli airstrikes targeted Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip early on Wednesday. According to military experts, the plumes of smoke seen rising suggest the Israelis are deploying bunker buster bombs, targeting underground infrastructure
Smoke rises during an Israeli air strike on suspected Hamas targets in Gaza City on Wednesday
Johnson tweeted on Wednesday that the United Kingdom is ‘deeply concerned’ and urged leaders to ‘step back from the brink.’
He was one of many leaders around the world offering up advice after longtime tensions in contested Jerusalem erupted into rocket-fire from the Gaza Strip and an intense response from Israel.
British Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly told Parliament that Britain ‘unequivocally condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and other locations in Israel.’ He called Hamas’ conduct ‘terrorism’ and called on militants to ‘end their incitement and rocket fire against Israel.’
Cleverly said Israel has a ‘legitimate right to self-defense,’ but added that in doing so, ‘it is vital that all actions are proportionate, in line with international humanitarian law and make every effort to avoid civilian casualties.’
Hamas militants and their allies have fired more than 1,000 missiles at Israel, though many have been shot down by the Iron Dome defence system, while others have landed inside Gaza. The Israeli towns of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Yehud have been struck, as well as the most populous city, Tel Aviv. In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force has targeted suspected Hamas strongholds in Gaza City as well as the southern settlements Rafah and Khan Yunis
Terrifying footage shows Hamas rocket blow up a bus, yards from civilians
Terrifying video footage has emerged of a rocket launched by Hamas militants blowing up a bus in Israel as civilians watched on in horror.
Video shows the city bus erupting in flames, with black smoke billowing from the burning vehicle, in the central city of Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, last night.
In other videos, dozens of Israel’s Iron Dome defence system’s missiles can be seen lighting up the night sky yesterday as they shot down a bombardment of rockets fired by Hamas militants.
Residents of Tel Aviv, Israel’s most populous city, hid in their houses and under shelters as scores of rockets were seen flying overhead before they were struck down by Israeli missiles.
Video shows the city bus erupting in flames, with black smoke billowing from the burning vehicle, in the central city of Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, last night
Just after daybreak, the Israeli Air Force unleashed dozens of strikes within the course of a few minutes with what appeared to be bunker buster bombs targeting underground Hamas infrastructure.
The Israeli Defence Forces later dispatched two infantry brigades to the area of a downed militant drone, indicating preparations for a possible ground invasion.
Boris Johnson condemned the spiralling conflict this morning hours after his former counterpart Donald Trump blamed ‘weak’ Joe Biden for allowing things to escalate.
‘I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties.’
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke to the Israeli foreign minister on Tuesday and will speak to the Palestinian prime minister on Wednesday, MPs were told in Westminster.
Despite international condemnation for the bloodshed, the worst since the 2014 war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for ceasefire, vowing last night to ‘step up’ attacks.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in turn that ‘if Israel wants to escalate, we are ready for it’.
The tensions began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Muslim neighbourhoods ignited protests and clashes with police. On Monday, a riot on Temple Mount left hundreds of Palestinians wounded before Hamas started launching rockets.
The International Criminal Court at the Hague announced this morning it was looking at possible ‘crimes’ committed as the ferocious cross-border engagement entered its third day.
‘I note with great concern the escalation of violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in and around Gaza, and the possible commission of crimes under the Rome Statute (which founded the ICC)’, Fatou Bensouda tweeted.
More than a hundred Hamas rockets were launched at Israel’s most populous city, Tel Aviv, last night after a tower block in Gaza suspected of being a Hamas headquarters was destroyed by an Israeli air strike.
Palestinian women check the damage inside their apartment on Wednesday morning after it was bombed by the Israelis
Smoke billows from an Israeli bombardment at sunrise on Khan Yunish in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday
A Palestinian father carries his children away from their home to head to a safer neighbourhood after a bombardment warning on Wednesday
Palestinians assess the damage caused by an Israeli air strike in the town of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 12, 2021. Heavy exchanges of rocket fire and air strikes, and rioting in mixed Jewish-Arab towns, fuelled fears today that deadly violence between Israel and Palestinians could spiral into ‘full-scale war’
A Palestinian man takes pictures of the aftermath of a bombardment on Wednesday morning as a mound of dirt lies in the street beside mangled cars in Gaza City
Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on a tower block in Gaza as it collapses. The destruction of apartment apartment towers was among several tactics used during the 2014 war that are now the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court into possible war crimes. Israel is not a member of the court and has rejected the probe.
Israelis sing to keep their spirits up in a Tel Aviv bomb shelter
Footage has emerged of Israelis singing in a bomb shelter as fighting between the Jewish state and Hamas intensified today amid warnings of all-out war.
The video was taken in Tel Aviv overnight as the city was targeted by a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza.
It shows a large group of people standing in what appears to be a basement car park being led in song by Shuli Rand, a well-known Jewish actor and musician.
The song is called Between Holiness and Secularity, and the lyrics that appear in the video translate as: ‘Please save me and please keep me from harm.’
What’s happening now in the Holy Land… A bomb shelter in Tel Aviv.
Footage has emerged of Israelis in a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv overnight singing as the city was targeted by 201 Hamas rockets
Tel Aviv found itself targeted overnight by rockets as Hamas said 210 rockets had been fired at the city, which is Israel’s most-populous.
The strike was in retaliation for a multi-storey block of apartments that was blown up in Gaza, Hamas said.
At least 67 people have been killed in Gaza since violence escalated on Monday, according to the enclave’s health ministry. Six people have been killed in Israel, medical officials said.
The IDF have assassinated several top militant commanders, including Hassan Kaogi, head of the Hamas intelligence department, in their airstrikes.
In a statement, the army said it carried out a ‘complex and first-of-its-kind operation.’ Those targeted, it said, were ‘a key part of the Hamas ‘General Staff” and considered close to the head of the group’s military wing.
Hamas later confirmed they had lost several of their top brass, including its military chief in Gaza City, Bassem Issa.
The Israelis accuse the Palestinian fighters of using their own people as human shields, but the civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip have only hardened the position of the extremists who have launched hundreds more missiles.
In Israel’s central city of Lod, a girl and her father were killed in the early hours of Wednesday by rocket fire from Gaza. Israel’s foreign ministry identified the girl as 16-year-old Nadin Awad, an Arab Israeli.
Her cousin, Ahmad Ismail, told public broadcaster Kan that he was near Nadin when she was killed alongside her father Khalil Awad, 52.
‘I was at home, we heard the noise of the rocket. It happened so quickly. Even if we had wanted to run somewhere, we don’t have a safe room,’ Ismail told Kan.
Lod also saw riots after thousands of mourners joined a funeral for an Arab man killed by a suspected Jewish gunman the previous night.
The crowd fought with police, and set a synagogue and some 30 vehicles, including a police car, on fire, Israeli media reported.
Paramedics said a 56-year-old man was seriously hurt after his car was pelted with stones.
The Israeli President Reuven Rivlin described it as a ‘pogrom’ carried out by a ‘bloodthirsty Arab mob,’ after Netanyahu declared a state of emergency in the mixed Jewish-Arab city.
‘The sight of the pogrom in Lod and the disturbances across the country by an incited and bloodthirsty Arab mob, injuring people, damaging property and even attacking sacred Jewish spaces is unforgivable,’ Rivlin said.
Yair Revivo, mayor of the city, last night called for army back-up to help secure the area, saying ‘civil war’ was breaking out.
‘This is Kristallnacht in Lod,’ said Revivo, in reference to the Nazi pogrom against German Jews in 1938.
‘I have called on the prime minister to declare a state of emergency in Lod. To call in the IDF. To impose a curfew. To restore quiet. There is a failure of governance.
‘This is a giant incident – an Intifada of Arab Israelis. All the work we have done here for years [on coexistence] has gone down the drain.’
Netanhayu made a pre-dawn tour of the city to declare a state of emergency.
‘We will not tolerate this; we need to restore calm,’ Netanyahu said in Lod. ‘If this isn’t an emergency situation, I don’t know what is. We are talking about life and death here.’
A thick black column of smoke and red flames rise into the sky over Gaza on Wednesday during Israeli bombardments
A Palestnian family flee their home on Wednesday to head to a safety from Israeli airstrikes as rubble fills the street
A fire rages at sunrise in Khan Yunish in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning as Israel’s bombardment of Hamas targets continues
Israeli artillery in action as the escalation continues between Israeli army and Hamas at the Gaza border
A colossal crater blown into a Gaza street is seen on Wednesday beside wrecked shops and homes in nearby tower blocks
An overturned car lies in the street filled with debris after a tower block was levelled in Gaza by Israeli warplanes last night
Smoke billows over Gaza on Wednesday as the Israeli bombardments continued throughout the night and into dawn
A Palestinian boy walks past rubble on a street in Gaza City on Wednesday after bombardments by the Israeli Air Force throughout the night
Display mannequins from a damaged clothing shop are scattered amid the debris outside the heavily-damaged Al-Jawhara Tower in Gaza on Wednesday morning
Cars are wrecked by rubble after buildings collapsed last night in Gaza during the Israeli barrages
An Israeli security officer comforts a man in the town of Holon near Tel Aviv during rocket attacks by militants in Gaza on Tuesday night
Two Palestinian women survey the damage to their bombed out flat in Gaza City on Wednesday morning
Footage released by the IDF shows precision airstrikes on densely populated Gaza
IDF announced they had killed at least four Hamas commanders on Wednesday. They included Gaza City Brigade chief Bassem Issa; Jamaa Tahla, responsible for the improved accuracy of the group’s rockets; Jamal Zabeda, chief of ‘special projects’ in the munitions department; and Hazzem Hatib, head engineer in the munitions wing.
TRUMP: ‘WEAK’ BIDEN TO BLAME FOR CONFLICT
Former US President Donald Trump blamed his successor Joe Biden’s ‘weakness’ for the renewed clashes in the Middle East. Writing on his website Trump, he said:
‘When I was in office we were known as the Peace Presidency, because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked.
‘Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies.
‘America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks, and make clear that the U.S. will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself.
‘Unbelievably, Democrats also continue to stand by crazed anti-American Rep. Ilhan Omar, and others, who savagely attack Israel while they are under terrorist assault.’
Asked whether the actions of the police against protesters may have played a role, he shut down the suggestion, saying: ‘These events have no excuse; this is fundamental hate.’
It comes after the PM, speaking after two women were killed in Hamas strikes yesterday, said he ‘deplored’ the deaths in Israel, adding that the country’s military would ‘further increase both the intensity and the rate’ of its own air strikes against Gaza.
‘Hamas will be hit in ways that it does not expect,’ Netanyahu said. ‘We have eliminated commanders, hit many important targets and we have decided to attack harder and increase the pace of attacks.’
The homes of three Hamas commanders were destroyed overnight on Wednesday.
A significant barrage had begun by 3am, with Israel firing into the Gaza Strip.
‘In response to HUNDREDS of rockets in the last 24 hours, the IDF has struck a number of significant terror targets and terror operatives across the Gaza Strip, marking our largest strike since 2014,’ the IDF confirmed.
‘We are currently striking more terror targets in Gaza.’
In Israel, five people including three women have been killed.
One of the three women was in her 60s and another in her 80s, and died during Hamas rocket attacks earlier on Tuesday.
The third woman, aged 50, was killed on Tuesday evening when a rocket hit a building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion.
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