Israel steps up attacks on Gaza with heavy bombing overnight

Israel stepped up its attacks on the Gaza Strip overnight with the heaviest bombardment yet coming by land, sea and air amid fears of a ground invasion with thousands of troops moved to the border.

Helicopters, jets, gun boats and artillery pounded northern and eastern parts of Gaza with more than 1,000 bombs and shells overnight Thursday as the IDF said it had carried out a ‘complex’ operation to destroy Hamas tunnels underneath Gaza City, which the military refers to as ‘the Metro’.

There was confusion and panic when the IDF said shortly after midnight that ground forces were ‘attacking in Gaza’, and later suggested that boots were on the ground. However, a spokesman later retracted that statement – saying that military operations were conducted along the border, but no Israeli troops had crossed it.

But the spectre of invasion now looms large with Israeli troops packing border areas, 9,000 reservists called up, and Palestinians beginning to evacuate homes along the frontier. Any invasion would mark a major escalation in the violence and likely send the death toll soaring. 

The death toll currently stands at 119 Palestinians killed, including 31 children and 19 women, with 830 wounded. Nine Israelis have been killed, including one soldier and a six-year-old boy. 

In response, Hamas fired 220 rockets from Gaza at cities in Israel overnight, the IDF said, and was joined by three rockets fired from Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon – though all of them fell short. 

Attacks continued this morning, with Israeli jets striking what the IDF called underground rocket sites in Gaza City and Hamas watchtowers. Meanwhile sirens sounded on the Israeli side of the border as Hamas attacked with suicide drones, while several Israeli troops were injured in a knife attack near the West Bank city of Ofra.

Elsewhere, more street clashes took place overnight in the mixed Israeli-Arab city of Lod, with a synagogue burned to the ground. A 19-year-old IDF solider was also badly beaten in the Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa and a Jewish family were attacked inside their car in Umm al-Fahm.

Far-right Jewish groups were also calling for attacks on Arabs and their businesses in the cities of Be’er Sheva and Ramle, according to Israeli news site Ynet

Despite the rapidly escalating violence and amid calls for urgent deescalation from world leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed today that there would be no let-up in attacks.

I said we would extract a very heavy price from Hamas. We are doing that, and we will continue to do that with heavy force,’ he said.  

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14 as the violence continues

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14 as the violence continues

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14 as the violence continues

Fire billows from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip overnight as the IDF stepped up attacks directed at Hamas

Fire billows from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip overnight as the IDF stepped up attacks directed at Hamas

Fire billows from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip overnight as the IDF stepped up attacks directed at Hamas

An Israeli artillery unit fires into the Gaza strip during an overnight operation that the IDF said was aimed at destroying Hamas tunnel networks under Gaza City

An Israeli artillery unit fires into the Gaza strip during an overnight operation that the IDF said was aimed at destroying Hamas tunnel networks under Gaza City

An Israeli artillery unit fires into the Gaza strip during an overnight operation that the IDF said was aimed at destroying Hamas tunnel networks under Gaza City

A building in Gaza City is seen alight in the early hours of Friday morning

A building in Gaza City is seen alight in the early hours of Friday morning

A building in Gaza City is seen alight in the early hours of Friday morning

The night sky on Friday is lit up as rockets are fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip

The night sky on Friday is lit up as rockets are fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip

The night sky on Friday is lit up as rockets are fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli forces launched ground, sea and air attacks towards Gaza Strip

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli forces launched ground, sea and air attacks towards Gaza Strip

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli forces launched ground, sea and air attacks towards Gaza Strip

An image showing Hamas rockets fired from Gaza overnight (right) and blasts as they are intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defence system (left)

An image showing Hamas rockets fired from Gaza overnight (right) and blasts as they are intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defence system (left)

An image showing Hamas rockets fired from Gaza overnight (right) and blasts as they are intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system (left)








Rockets are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

Rockets are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

Rockets are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip overnight, in an operation that the IDF said was designed to destroy Hamas tunnel networks

Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip overnight, in an operation that the IDF said was designed to destroy Hamas tunnel networks

Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli airstrike in the northern Gaza Strip overnight, in an operation that the IDF said was designed to destroy Hamas tunnel networks

Rockets light up the night sky as they are fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

Rockets light up the night sky as they are fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

Rockets light up the night sky as they are fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip

An Israeli 155mm self-propelled howitzer, loaded on a trailer, arrives at a position along the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday

An Israeli 155mm self-propelled howitzer, loaded on a trailer, arrives at a position along the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday

An Israeli 155mm self-propelled howitzer, loaded on a trailer, arrives at a position along the Israel-Gaza border on Thursday 

Shells from an Israeli gunboat are pictured landing in the sea off the Gaza strip today as the bombardment continued

Shells from an Israeli gunboat are pictured landing in the sea off the Gaza strip today as the bombardment continued

Shells from an Israeli gunboat are pictured landing in the sea off the Gaza strip today as the bombardment continued

Israeli soldiers load a mobile artillery piece with shells as they prepare to fire at targets across the border in Gaza

Israeli soldiers load a mobile artillery piece with shells as they prepare to fire at targets across the border in Gaza

Israeli soldiers load a mobile artillery piece with shells as they prepare to fire at targets across the border in Gaza

The crew of an Israeli mobile artillery piece wait for orders as fighting escalates with Hamas on Friday

The crew of an Israeli mobile artillery piece wait for orders as fighting escalates with Hamas on Friday

The crew of an Israeli mobile artillery piece wait for orders as fighting escalates with Hamas on Friday

IDF soldiers stationed near the border with Gaza make their way across train tracks on Friday morning

IDF soldiers stationed near the border with Gaza make their way across train tracks on Friday morning

IDF soldiers stationed near the border with Gaza make their way across train tracks on Friday morning

IDF soldiers manning a mobile artillery piece take cover as rocket sirens sound amid continuing attacks on Friday

IDF soldiers manning a mobile artillery piece take cover as rocket sirens sound amid continuing attacks on Friday

IDF soldiers manning a mobile artillery piece take cover as rocket sirens sound amid continuing attacks on Friday

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet releases a flare as it streaks through the skies above Sderot, with the air force saying it struck more targets in Gaza City today

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet releases a flare as it streaks through the skies above Sderot, with the air force saying it struck more targets in Gaza City today

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet releases a flare as it streaks through the skies above Sderot, with the air force saying it struck more targets in Gaza City today








The Israeli Defence Forces said that 160 aircraft flying simultaneously conducted a 40-minute attack on a network of tunnels dug by the Hamas, with 450 missiles dropped on 150 targets in northern Gaza.

After the air strikes were launched, some 500 artillery shells — some flares and some explosive — along with 50 tank shells were fired in a follow-up attack. 

More airstrikes took place this morning, with the IDF saying it is targeting underground rocket launchers and Hamas observation posts. 

The IDF also said 220 rockets were fired by Hamas in response to the overnight attacks, with targets including the cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba and Yavne.

Two women, aged 50 and 80, died overnight from injuries sustained while trying to take shelter from rockets, Israeli media reported. A 60-year-old man was also seriously hurt after a rocket struck Ashkelon.  

Rocket sirens continued to sound in Ashkelon and other cities near the Gaza strip this morning, with the IDF saying more than 2,000 rockets have now been fired in less than five days. 

Netanyahu ‘stoking tensions to distract from his political problems’ 

An Israeli-Arab MP has accused Prime Minister benjamin Netanyahu of stoking tensions between Muslims and Jews in order to escape his own political problems.

Netanyahu was faced with being forced from power last month after he failed to form a coalition government following Israel’s fourth election in two years. 

Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Israeli parliament, today accused Netanyahu of using the conflict to ‘divert’ people from those issues.

‘There is a political intention by… Netanyahu and his ministers to escalate the situation more and more,’ she told the BBC.

‘If the debate in Israel under discussion and the tension till last month was between [Netanyahu’s] camp and the anti-Benjamin Netanyahu camp, they wanted to divert it into a kind of a war, a citizens’ war between Jews and Arabs.’ 

Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister but has seen his popularity decline amid allegations of corruption, and has failed to score a decisive victory against his opponents in any of the recent votes. 

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Three rockets were also fired from southern Lebanon towards northern Israel, Israeli security forces said, but were not heading towards populated areas and fell short into the Mediterranean off Israel’s north coast.

Hezbollah, a militant group allied with Hamas, denied being responsible for the attack – saying instead that it was carried out by a rogue pro-Palestinian group as a show of solidarity. 

Fears of an all-out war escalated in the early hours of Friday morning as the military said just after midnight that air and ground forces were ‘attacking’ the Hamas-run enclave. Rocket barrages from Gaza swiftly followed.

IDF spokesmen then appeared to confirm to multiple journalists that boots were on the ground in Gaza, before an urgent clarification was issued saying that no troops had crossed the border and apologising for the earlier mistake which was blamed on ‘internal communication issues’.

Residents in northern Gaza, near the Israeli frontier, said they had seen no sign of Israeli ground forces inside the enclave but reported heavy artillery fire and dozens of air strikes. 

Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida said the group was not afraid of a ground invasion, saying the move would be a chance ‘to increase our catch’ of dead or captive soldiers. 

Attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis have so far floundered, with Israel refusing calls for a ceasefire put forward by an Egyptian delegation which had travelled to the country to try and negotiate. The delegation has now returned to Cairo, Russian news agency TASS reported today.

French President Emmanuel Macron, tweeting in French, English, Hebrew and Arabic, joined calls for calm, saying the ‘spiral of violence must stop’ – though his pleas appeared to fall on deaf ears.

The United Nations Security Council has confirmed that it will convene to discuss the rapidly worsening situation, but will not meet until Sunday. 

Palestinians living outside Gaza City, near the northern and eastern frontiers with Israel, fled the intense artillery bombardment Friday.

Families arrived at the U.N.-run schools in the city in pick-up trucks, on donkeys and by foot, hauling pillows and pans, blankets and bread.

‘We were planning to leave our homes at night, but Israeli jets bombarded us so we had to wait until the morning,’ said Hedaia Maarouf, who fled with her extended family of 19 people, including 13 children. 

‘We were terrified for our children, who were screaming and shaking.’

In the northern Gaza Strip, Rafat Tanani, his pregnant wife and four children were killed after an Israeli warplane reduced a building to rubble, residents said. 

‘It was a massacre,’ said Sadallah Tanani, a relative. ‘My feelings are indescribable.’

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said tanks stationed near the border fired 50 rounds. 

It was part of a large operation that also involved airstrikes and was aimed at destroying tunnels beneath Gaza City used by militants to evade surveillance and airstrikes, which the military refers to as ‘the Metro.’ 

Newly-released satellite images capture a fire at an Israeli oil storage facility near Ashkelon on Wednesday after it was struck by rockets fired from inside Gaza

Newly-released satellite images capture a fire at an Israeli oil storage facility near Ashkelon on Wednesday after it was struck by rockets fired from inside Gaza

Newly-released satellite images capture a fire at an Israeli oil storage facility near Ashkelon on Wednesday after it was struck by rockets fired from inside Gaza

Another image shows the ruins of the Hanadi Tower after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes targeting what the IDF said were Hamas administrative offices inside Gaza

Another image shows the ruins of the Hanadi Tower after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes targeting what the IDF said were Hamas administrative offices inside Gaza

Another image shows the ruins of the Hanadi Tower after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes targeting what the IDF said were Hamas administrative offices inside Gaza

This newly-released handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows smoke from a burning storage tank in Ashkelon Southern Israel on May 12

This newly-released handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows smoke from a burning storage tank in Ashkelon Southern Israel on May 12

This newly-released handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows smoke from a burning storage tank in Ashkelon Southern Israel on May 12

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of Southern Israel and Gaza City on May 12

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of Southern Israel and Gaza City on May 12

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows an overview of Southern Israel and Gaza City on May 12

A graphic shows some of the areas of Gaza that have been targeted by air strikes from Israeli forces and the position of some Israeli weaponry

A graphic shows some of the areas of Gaza that have been targeted by air strikes from Israeli forces and the position of some Israeli weaponry

A graphic shows some of the areas of Gaza that have been targeted by air strikes from Israeli forces and the position of some Israeli weaponry

Palestinians throw fireworks against Israeli forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron overnight

Palestinians throw fireworks against Israeli forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron overnight

Palestinians throw fireworks against Israeli forces during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron overnight

Israeli security forces take aim at Arab rioters during a night of unrest in Hebron, the West Bank

Israeli security forces take aim at Arab rioters during a night of unrest in Hebron, the West Bank

Israeli security forces take aim at Arab rioters during a night of unrest in Hebron, the West Bank

Israeli security forces move through the streets of Hebron amid clashes with Arab rioters overnight

Israeli security forces move through the streets of Hebron amid clashes with Arab rioters overnight

Israeli security forces move through the streets of Hebron amid clashes with Arab rioters overnight

Palestinians throw fireworks at Israeli security forces during overnight clashes in Hebron, the West Bank

Palestinians throw fireworks at Israeli security forces during overnight clashes in Hebron, the West Bank

Palestinians throw fireworks at Israeli security forces during overnight clashes in Hebron, the West Bank

Palestinian families are pictured in a street after evacuating their homes east of Gaza City on May 13 due to heavy shelling by the Israeli military

Palestinian families are pictured in a street after evacuating their homes east of Gaza City on May 13 due to heavy shelling by the Israeli military

Palestinian families are pictured in a street after evacuating their homes east of Gaza City on May 13 due to heavy shelling by the Israeli military

Palestinian families are pictured in a street after evacuating their homes east of Gaza City late on Thursday evening amid shelling

Palestinian families are pictured in a street after evacuating their homes east of Gaza City late on Thursday evening amid shelling

Palestinian families are pictured in a street after evacuating their homes east of Gaza City late on Thursday evening amid shelling








Israeli firefighters battle a field fire after a rocket launched from Gaza strip struck last night in Ramla

Israeli firefighters battle a field fire after a rocket launched from Gaza strip struck last night in Ramla

Israeli firefighters battle a field fire after a rocket launched from Gaza strip struck last night in Ramla

Rockets are fired towards Israel from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after Israel pounded Gaza and deployed extra troops to the border

Rockets are fired towards Israel from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after Israel pounded Gaza and deployed extra troops to the border

Rockets are fired towards Israel from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after Israel pounded Gaza and deployed extra troops to the border

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip last night

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip last night

An explosion lights the sky following an Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip last night

An Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip lights up the sky as the conflict continues to rumble on

An Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip lights up the sky as the conflict continues to rumble on

An Israeli air strike on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip lights up the sky as the conflict continues to rumble on








Smoke and flames rise after Israeli forces launched ground, sea and air attacks towards Gaza Strip overnight

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli forces launched ground, sea and air attacks towards Gaza Strip overnight

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli forces launched ground, sea and air attacks towards Gaza Strip overnight

Rockets fired from Gaza fly towards Israel, as seen from Gaza City, in response to days of violent confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem

Rockets fired from Gaza fly towards Israel, as seen from Gaza City, in response to days of violent confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem

Rockets fired from Gaza fly towards Israel, as seen from Gaza City, in response to days of violent confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Jerusalem

Smoke rises over houses in Ashkelon following a rocket attack launched from Gaza towards Ashkelon, southern Israel

Smoke rises over houses in Ashkelon following a rocket attack launched from Gaza towards Ashkelon, southern Israel

Smoke rises over houses in Ashkelon following a rocket attack launched from Gaza towards Ashkelon, southern Israel

Rockets are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday

Rockets are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday

Rockets are seen in the night sky fired towards Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday

An Israeli firefighter battles a field fire after a rocket launched from Gaza strip struck overnight in Ramla, Israel

An Israeli firefighter battles a field fire after a rocket launched from Gaza strip struck overnight in Ramla, Israel

An Israeli firefighter battles a field fire after a rocket launched from Gaza strip struck overnight in Ramla, Israel

An Israeli firefighter walks in the early hours of Friday around a synagogue, after it was set on fire by Arab-Israelis, in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod

An Israeli firefighter walks in the early hours of Friday around a synagogue, after it was set on fire by Arab-Israelis, in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod

An Israeli firefighter walks in the early hours of Friday around a synagogue, after it was set on fire by Arab-Israelis, in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod








‘As always, the aim is to strike military targets and to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties,’ he said. 

‘Unlike our very elaborate efforts to clear civilian areas before we strike high-rise or large buildings inside Gaza, that wasn’t feasible this time.’

The strikes came after Egyptian mediators rushed to Israel for cease-fire talks that showed no signs of progress. Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations were leading the truce efforts.

The fighting broke out late Monday when Hamas fired a long-range rocket at Jerusalem in support of Palestinian protests there against the policing of a flashpoint holy site and efforts by Jewish settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families from their homes.

Since then, Israel has attacked hundreds of targets in Gaza, causing earth-shaking explosions across densely populated areas. 

Of the 1,800 rockets Gaza militants have fired, more than 400 fell short or misfired, according to the military.

The rockets have brought life in parts of southern Israel to a standstill, and several barrages have targeted the seaside metropolis of Tel Aviv, some 70 kilometers (45 miles) away from Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the operation, saying in a video statement that Israel would ‘extract a very heavy price from Hamas.’

In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden said he spoke with Netanyahu about calming the fighting but also backed the Israeli leader by saying ‘there has not been a significant overreaction.’

He said the goal now is to ‘get to a point where there is a significant reduction in attacks, particularly rocket attacks.’ He called the effort ‘a work in progress.’

Israel has come under heavy international criticism for civilian casualties during three previous wars in Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians. 

It says Hamas is responsible for endangering civilians by placing military infrastructure in civilian areas and launching rockets from them.

Hamas showed no signs of backing down. It fired its most powerful rocket, the Ayyash, nearly 200 kilometers (120 miles) into southern Israel on Thursday.  

A Palestinian man carries the corpse of a toddler, killed in what was believed to have been an Israeli air strike, before his burial in Beit Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian man carries the corpse of a toddler, killed in what was believed to have been an Israeli air strike, before his burial in Beit Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian man carries the corpse of a toddler, killed in what was believed to have been an Israeli air strike, before his burial in Beit Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians gather at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants

Palestinians gather at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants

Palestinians gather at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants

Damage to buildings in the north of the Gaza Strip is seen on Friday morning after a heavy night of bombing from Israel

Damage to buildings in the north of the Gaza Strip is seen on Friday morning after a heavy night of bombing from Israel

Damage to buildings in the north of the Gaza Strip is seen on Friday morning after a heavy night of bombing from Israel

A Palestinian man looks up through the roof of a destroyed building in Gaza following a night of heavy shelling

A Palestinian man looks up through the roof of a destroyed building in Gaza following a night of heavy shelling

A Palestinian man looks up through the roof of a destroyed building in Gaza following a night of heavy shelling

A Palestinian woman breaks down as she looks at the bodies of four brothers killed during a night of heavy Israeli bombing

A Palestinian woman breaks down as she looks at the bodies of four brothers killed during a night of heavy Israeli bombing

A Palestinian woman breaks down as she looks at the bodies of four brothers killed during a night of heavy Israeli bombing

Palestinian relatives mourn over the bodies of four brothers from the Al-tanani family who were found under the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes in Beit Lahiya

Palestinian relatives mourn over the bodies of four brothers from the Al-tanani family who were found under the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes in Beit Lahiya

Palestinian relatives mourn over the bodies of four brothers from the Al-tanani family who were found under the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes in Beit Lahiya

Palestinians work at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinians work at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinians work at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinian women walk at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes

Palestinian women walk at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes

Palestinian women walk at the site of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli air and artillery strikes

Palestinians inspect their destroyed houses following overnight Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect their destroyed houses following overnight Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect their destroyed houses following overnight Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect their destroyed houses following overnight Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect their destroyed houses following overnight Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians inspect their destroyed houses following overnight Israeli airstrikes in town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip

Thousands protest in support of Palestinians in Bangladesh 

Thousands of Muslims led by activists from an Islamic political party demonstrated in Bangladesh’s capital on Friday to denounce attacks by Israel against Palestinians.

After the end of Eid a-Fitr prayers at Dhaka’s main Baitul Mokarram Mosque, activists from the Islamic Andolan Bangladesh, or Islamic Movement Bangladesh, began protesting and were joined by thousands of others.

Muslim-majority Bangladesh celebrated the key festival of Eid a-Fitr in a subdued manner after the government urged people to avoid large gatherings. Authorities arranged prayers in phases at the Baitul Mokarram Mosque, where devotees maintained distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Afterward, protesters crowded together outside, carrying signs reading ‘Boycott terrorist state Israel’ and chanting ‘Down with Israel.’

Bangladesh is one of 28 members of the United Nations that does not recognize the state of Israel.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged stronger global action to stop Israeli violence against Palestinians.

In a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hasina said the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem was a severe violation of human rights and international law.

‘We unequivocally denounce such acts of terror and violence and urge the international community to take sustainable measures to end such kinds of acts anywhere and everywhere in the world including Palestine,’ she wrote.

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The rocket landed in the open desert but briefly disrupted flight traffic at the southern Ramon airport. Hamas has also launched two drones that Israel said it quickly shot down.

Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida said the group was not afraid of a ground invasion, which would be a chance ‘to increase our catch’ of Israeli soldiers.

The current eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem. A focal point of clashes was Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on a hilltop compound that is revered by Jews and Muslims. 

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem, which includes sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, to be the capital of their future state.

The violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem and other mixed cities across Israel has meanwhile added a new layer of volatility to the conflict not seen in more than two decades.

The violence continued overnight into Friday. A Jewish man was shot and seriously wounded in Lod, the epicenter of the troubles, and Israeli media said a second Jewish man was shot. 

In the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Jaffa, an Israeli soldier was attacked by a group of Arabs and hospitalized in serious condition.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said some 750 suspects have been arrested since the communal violence began earlier this week. 

He said police had clashed overnight with individuals in Lod and Tel Aviv who hurled rocks and firebombs at them.

The fighting deepened a political crisis that has sent Israel careening through four inconclusive elections in just two years. After March elections, Netanyahu failed to form a government coalition. Now his political rivals have three weeks to try to do so.

Those efforts have been greatly complicated by the fighting. His opponents include a broad range of parties that have little in common. They would need the support of an Arab party, whose leader has said he cannot negotiate while Israel is fighting in Gaza.

Meanwhile the U.N. Security Council will publicly discuss the worsening violence between Israel and Palestinian militants on Sunday, diplomats said, reaching a compromise over U.S. objections to a meeting on Friday.

Diplomats said the United States, a close ally of Israel, had initially suggested a virtual public meeting could be held on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday he hoped waiting a few days would allow for ‘diplomacy to have some effect and to see if indeed we get a real de-escalation,’ adding that Washington was ‘open to and supportive of a discussion, an open discussion, at the United Nations.’

Hostilities entered their fifth day overnight, with no sign of abating. Israel fired artillery and mounted more air strikes against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip amid constant rocket fire deep into Israel’s commercial centre.

The 15-member council has met privately twice this week about the worst hostilities in the region in years, but has so far been unable to agree on a public statement, diplomats said.

Such statements are agreed to by consensus, and the United States did not believe it would be helpful, they said.

All council members also have to agree to a meeting under rules guiding the body’s virtual operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has urged citizens to ‘reconsider travel to Israel’ due to the recent surge in violence.

The travel advisory level, which had been lowered in recent weeks due to improvement in the country’s Covid-19 situation, was stepped up to Level 3, out of a maximum of four.

‘Reconsider travel to Israel due to armed conflict and civil unrest,’ the department said in a statement.

‘Rockets continue to impact the Gaza periphery and areas across Southern and Central Israel, including Jerusalem,’ it said. ‘There has been a marked increase in protests and violence throughout Israel.’ 

Palestinians assess the damage in a building caused by Israeli air strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians assess the damage in a building caused by Israeli air strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians assess the damage in a building caused by Israeli air strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip

Damaged caused to buildings in Gaza City by an IDF bombardment overnight is revealed as the sun comes up

Damaged caused to buildings in Gaza City by an IDF bombardment overnight is revealed as the sun comes up

Damaged caused to buildings in Gaza City by an IDF bombardment overnight is revealed as the sun comes up

A Palestinian woman shouts in the street as those living in Gaza assess the damage after a night of IDF bombardment

A Palestinian woman shouts in the street as those living in Gaza assess the damage after a night of IDF bombardment

A Palestinian woman shouts in the street as those living in Gaza assess the damage after a night of IDF bombardment

Palestinians assess the damage caused by Israeli air strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians assess the damage caused by Israeli air strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip

Palestinians assess the damage caused by Israeli air strikes, in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip

An Israeli man takes a photo with his mobile phone at a residential building after a rocket launched overnight from the Gaza Strip hit it in Ashkelon

An Israeli man takes a photo with his mobile phone at a residential building after a rocket launched overnight from the Gaza Strip hit it in Ashkelon

An Israeli man takes a photo with his mobile phone at a residential building after a rocket launched overnight from the Gaza Strip hit it in Ashkelon

Palestinians riding on a pickup truck flee their homes during Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinians riding on a pickup truck flee their homes during Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinians riding on a pickup truck flee their homes during Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinians flee their homes during Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinians flee their homes during Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

Palestinians flee their homes during Israeli air and artillery strikes as cross-border violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants continues

A Palestinian boy pulls a cart carrying his brother and their belongings as they flee their home during Israeli airstrikes

A Palestinian boy pulls a cart carrying his brother and their belongings as they flee their home during Israeli airstrikes

A Palestinian boy pulls a cart carrying his brother and their belongings as they flee their home during Israeli airstrikes

Palestinians carry some of their belongings in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, as they flee Israeli air and artillery strikes

Palestinians carry some of their belongings in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, as they flee Israeli air and artillery strikes

Palestinians carry some of their belongings in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, as they flee Israeli air and artillery strikes

China on Friday accused the United States of ‘ignoring the suffering’ of muslims, after Washington blocked a scheduled UN Security Council meeting aimed at addressing an intensifying conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The US, Israel’s diplomatic shield at the UN, blocked an originally scheduled Friday session despite the deepening bloodshed – but eventually agreed to move it to Sunday, diplomats said.

As the crisis has unfurled, China has taken up the Palestinian cause at the Security Council, a venue where it frequently plays its veto card to block motions against its allies.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters the US had single handedly obstructed the Security Council from speaking out on the crisis, ‘standing on the opposite side of the international community’.

‘What we can feel is that the US keeps saying that it cares about the human rights of Muslims… but it was ignoring the suffering of the Palestinian people,’ Hua added.

She contrasted America’s reluctance at the Security Council with calls by the US, Britain and Germany for China to end repression of its Uyghur Muslim minority – an incendiary issue in US-China relations.

‘The US should realise that the lives of Palestinian Muslims are equally precious,’ she said.

The US, Israel’s key ally, has defended the Jewish state’s deadly offensive, which comes in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip.

But President Joe Biden’s administration has also voiced alarm over civilian casualties and earlier pushed Israel to hold off on evictions of Palestinians in Jerusalem, the immediate trigger for the flare-up.

Hua said Friday that efforts should be made to lower temperatures and prevent the crisis from escalating.

She restated that China will push the Security Council to take action soon, as well as reiterate its firm support for a two-state solution.

Security Council sessions, held by videoconference due to the pandemic, require support of all 15 members.

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip

Palestinian families fleeing from their homes at Al-Shati Refugee Camp, take shelter in a school as Israeli forces continue to pound Gaza Strip








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