Hamas, Israel fighting escalates even amid truce efforts – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Hamas sent heavy rocket fire deep into Israel on Thursday as Israel struck Gaza with further air strikes and drafted 9,000 more reservists. The relentless escalation of hostilities even came as Egyptian negotiators held face-to-face talks with both sides and stepped up mediation efforts.
Previous fighting between Israel and Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip, including a devastating war in 2014, has been largely confined to the impoverished and blocked Palestinian territory and the Israeli communities on the border. But this round seems to go further and further than it has ever done since the Palestinian intifada or uprising of 2000.
While some rocket strikes hit the Tel Aviv area, Arab and Jewish mobs raged through the streets, brutally beating people and setting fire to cars. Flights have been canceled or diverted from the country’s main airport.
Tired Palestinians, meanwhile, bleakly marked the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Thursday, as militants fired rocket after rocket fire and Israel carried out waves of bone-rattling air strikes. Since the rockets began on Monday, Israel has overturned three skyscrapers allegedly housing Hamas facilities after civilians were warned of the evacuation.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said the death toll had risen to 87 Palestinians, including 18 children and eight women, with 530 people injured. Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven militants, while Hamas recognized 13 of the militants killed, including one in chief. Israel says the number of dead militants is much higher.
Seven people were killed in Israel. Among them were a soldier who was killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child who was hit in a missile attack.
Many world leaders have condemned the violence and urged restraint, and a visit by Egyptian security officials was a significant development in the international ceasefire effort. Such efforts were the key to ending past rounds of combat. The officials first met with Hamas leaders in Gaza before holding talks with the Israelis in Tel Aviv, two Egyptian intelligence officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
Still, both Israel and Hamas seemed determined to move forward.
Even as the presence of the mediators became known, the Gaza Strip militants fired a volley of around 100 rockets almost simultaneously and set off airstrike sirens around southern and central Israel.
There were no immediate reports of damage or loss – but the barrage was intended to show that Hamas’ arsenal was still full after three nights of air strikes and the murder of several Hamas leaders involved in the missile program on Wednesday.
“The decision to bomb Tel Aviv, Dimona and Jerusalem is easier for us than drinking water,” a spokesman for the Hamas military wing said in a video message. The Israeli nuclear reactor is located in Dimona.
In yet another sign that the fighting could escalate further, the Israeli Defense Minister approved the mobilization of 9,000 more reservist troops, and the Israeli military spokesman said the armed forces would be gathering on the border with Gaza.
The Department of Defense said Thursday that the final mobilization approved by Defense Secretary Benny Gantz was an “extraordinary call”.
Chief military spokesman Brig. General Hidai Zilberman said the armed forces were preparing “the option of a ground maneuver”. He told Israeli public television broadcaster Kan that tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery were being prepared “for this option to mobilize at a specific time”.
However, it was believed that the level of the armed forces was not yet strong enough for a possible ground invasion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited batteries of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which according to the military has intercepted 90% of the 1,200 missiles that have so far reached Israel from the Gaza Strip.
“It will take more time, but … we will achieve our goal – to restore peace in the State of Israel,” he said.
The evening before, Israeli television reported that the Netanyahu Security Cabinet had approved an expansion of the offensive, which, according to the military, had already reached 600 targets in Gaza.
In Gaza, Eid al-Fitr, the holiday at the end of the daily fasting month of Ramadan, was doused with a pall. It is usually a festive time when families buy new clothes and gather for large celebrations.
Instead, Hamas urged believers to mark the common oath prayers in their homes or in the nearest mosques instead of being outdoors as usual.
Hassan Abu Shaaban tried to improve the mood by distributing candy to passers-by after the prayer, but admitted that “there is no atmosphere at all for Eid”.
“It’s all air strikes, destruction and devastation,” he said. “May God help everyone.”
In Gaza’s southern city of Khan Younis, dozens of mourners marched through the streets with the bodies of an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old killed when an Israeli air strike struck near their home on Wednesday.
In Israel, the rocket fire brought life to a standstill in southern communities near Gaza, but for a second day in a row it reached as far north as Tel Aviv, some 70 kilometers away.
Israel diverted some incoming flights from Ben Gurion International Airport near the city to Ramon Airport in the far south of the country, the Ministry of Transport said. Several flights have also been canceled.
Hamas said it had fired its most powerful missile, the Ayyash, at Ramon, 180 kilometers from Gaza. The missile landed in a desert area and no airstrike sirens sounded, Israeli media reported. Even so, flights at the airport were briefly suspended and, according to flight websites, several planes circled before landings and take-offs resumed.
“We get by, sit at home and hope it’s okay,” said Motti Haim, a downtown Beer Yaakov resident and father of two. “It’s not easy to run to the shelter. It’s not easy with the children. “
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the “indiscriminate launching of rockets” from civilian areas in the Gaza Strip towards Israeli population centers, but called on Israel to show “maximum restraint”. US President Joe Biden called Netanyahu to support Israel’s right to defend itself, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was sending a senior diplomat to the region.
The current outbreak of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where persistent Israeli police tactics during Ramadan and the threat of displacing dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers sparked protests and police clashes. A focal point of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police was the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which was built on a hill and is revered by Jews and Muslims.
Israel regards Jerusalem in its entirety as its capital, while the Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
The recent fighting has also resulted in violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Israel, in scenes that have not been seen in more than two decades. Netanyahu warned that he was ready to use an “iron fist if necessary” to calm the violence.
Ugly confrontations broke out again late on Wednesday. Jewish and Arab mobs fought in downtown Lod, the epicenter of the problems, despite the state of emergency and night curfew. In nearby Bat Yam, Jewish nationalists pulled an Arab driver out of his car and beat him until he was motionless.
Israeli police said two people were shot and wounded and an Israeli Jew was stabbed in Lod. An Arab citizen was stabbed and seriously wounded in Jerusalem’s central Mahane Yehuda market.
In the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military said it intervened in a Palestinian gun attack that injured two people. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the alleged shooter had been killed.
It is still unclear how the fighting in Gaza will affect Netanyahu’s political future. After inconclusive parliamentary elections in March, he was unable to form a ruling coalition, and now his political rivals have three weeks to try and form one.
You have courted a small Islamist Arab party, but the fighting could hamper that effort.
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