Israel Gaza violence

Israeli-Palestinian tensions escalate

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A surge in hostilities in Israel and Gaza is showing no sign of abating on Thursday (May 13) amid continued rocket fire and air strikes, despite numerous calls from the worldwide community for urgent de-escalation.

A BBC reporter in Gaza said it had been the “longest and most difficult night since the 2014 war”. Israel said it had been targeted with 1,600 rockets. The Israeli Army is now bracing for a possible land operation in Gaza.

At least 87 Palestinians including 18 children, and seven people in Israel have been killed since fighting began on Monday as the conflict threatens to escalate into an all-out war.

International airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Germany’s Lufthansa and Spain’s Iberia have all canceled flights to Tel Aviv.

The exchange of missile strikes between Israel and the Gaza Strip was triggered by riots at a holy hilltop compound in East Jerusalem, where over 700 people were injured in the past several days.

The site is revered by both Muslims, who call it the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), and Jews, for whom it is known as the Temple Mount.

Israeli political leaders have appealed for calm, following the wave of street violence.

The UN Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss the conflict for the second time this week.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin appealed during a video call for an end to fighting between Israel and Palestinians, the Kremlin said.

US President Joe Biden has said he hopes the violence will end “sooner than later” but a ceasefire does not appear immediate.

In Germany, authorities  warned of further protests in Germany over the conflict between Israel and Palestinians while France’s interior minister asked police to ban a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris this weekend.

Israeli military spokesman Hilda Zilberman said Israel was not seeking a ceasefire at the current time, the Times of Israel reported.

UPDATE 14/05/2021

The Israeli military did not cross into the Gaza Strip last night, but continued on Friday to bombard the Gaza Strip with air raids and artillery shells.

At least 119 Palestinians, including 31 children, have been killed and more than 830 wounded since hostilities flared up on Monday.

Despite international calls for an immediate halt of all hostilities Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged the offensive will continue “as needed to restore calm in the state of Israel”.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council moved their planned meeting to Sunday, after the United States blocked the meeting on Friday saying that it was to “give time for diplomacy” to play out.

UPDATE 15/05/2021

Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip entered its sixth consecutive day, with air raids hitting a refugee camp where at least 10 Palestinians were killed-including eight children- and destroying a building housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

At least 140 Palestinians, including 39 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Monday. Some 950 others have been wounded. At least nine people in Israel have also been killed, with one new death reported on Saturday.

UPDATE 17/05/2021 

Palestinian health authorities revealed on Monday that the death toll from Israeli attacks increased to 220, while 6,039 people in total were injured. Meanwhile, local media reported that the bombardment of the Israeli city of Ashkelon and settlements near Gaza left eight Israelis wounded. Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh during a televised speech called on the UN to condemn Israeli actions. He noted that “brutal Israeli raids have wiped out entire families in Gaza,” according to the Al Arabiya news outlet.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis in a televised address Sunday that Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” on Hamas. That will “take time,” Netanyahu said, signaling the war would rage on for now.

solidarity protests with Palestinian people
(Source: Al Jazeera, local media as of May 17)

Hamas in an announcement on Al-Aqsa TV on Monday has called for West Bank residents to openly clash with Israeli security forces in the region. The group also announced a general strike sometime on Tuesday.

As countries around the world continue to urge for an end to the violence, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken signaled Monday the U.S. would not join growing calls for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas.

Meanwhile, United States President Joe Biden authorized the sale of precision-guided weapons to Israel worth $735 million, the Washington Post reported.

More than 25 Democratic senators released a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire agreement in Israel and the Palestinian territories to “prevent further loss of life and further escalation of violence.”

UPDATE 18/05/2021

Fighting between Israel and Hamas showed few signs of abating on Tuesday (May 18), despite intense international diplomacy efforts.US President Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in a call on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement.  Egypt and U.N. mediators also stepped up diplomatic efforts.

The Israeli military said late on Monday that Hamas and other Palestinian groups had fired about 3,350 rockets from Gaza – 200 of them on Monday alone – and that Israeli air and artillery strikes had killed at least 130 militants.

Gaza health officials put the Palestinian death toll at 212, including 61 children and 36 women, since hostilities began last week. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children.

U.N. General Assembly will meet to discuss the violence on Thursday.

UPDATE 19/05/2021

Israeli fighter jets continued to pummel the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday (May 19). The Israel Defense Force reported it dropped 122 bombs during its overnight operations.

The latest raids came as Palestinian groups launched more rockets towards cities in southern Israel.
Biden told  Netanyahu on Wednesday that he expects “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire” in Gaza. However, the United States continued to block the UN Security Council from issuing a joint statement urging an end to the hostilities.

At least 227 Palestinians, including 64 children, have been killed in Gaza since the latest violence flared on May 10. More than 1,600 Palestinians have been wounded. Twelve people in Israel have died, including two children, while at least 300 Israelis have been wounded.

UPDATE 20/05/2021

gaza tunnel illustration

Israeli fighter jets continued to pound the Gaza Strip on Thursday (May 20) as Netanyahu defied calls for a de-escalation. The Israel military said it has destroyed over 60 miles of the Hamas ‘Metro’ tunnel system, as of May 20, a network of tunnels and bunkers runs underneath residential areas in Gaza.

The Gaza Ministry of Health reported on Thursday (May 20) that so far 230 Palestinians have died in 11 days of violence. The Palestine body reported that among those killed there were 65 children and 39 women, while the number of people injured rose to 1710.  On the Israeli side, 12 people have been killed.

Meanwhile, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, has decided to dump Shapir Engineering and Industry, a home builder, and Mivne Real Estate, two companies involved in the development of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, citing concerns about potential rights violations.

UPDATE 21/05/2021

Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire meant to end their 11-day conflict in the Gaza Strip on Friday (May 21) after the worst violence in years.  Egypt said it would send two delegations to monitor the ceasefire. Palestinians poured into Gaza’s streets to celebrate.

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Brief clashes broke out around Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem where Israeli police stormed the compound and fired tear gas at Palestinians after Friday prayers. Similar scenes had touched off the Gaza conflict.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza killed at least 243 Palestinians, including 66 children. On the Israeli side, 12 people, including two children, were killed.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that “eleven days of powerful strikes against the radicals in the Gaza Strip changed the balance of power and the rules of the game”. He added that the Jewish state “has destroyed kilometres of Hamas tunnels, bunkers, and command posts [in Gaza].”

With reporting by Al Jazeera, BBC, Times of Israel, Al Arabiya, AP, The Washington Post, Reuters