Israel masses forces near Gaza as air strikes continue

Death toll in Gaza rises to 109, health authorities say, as Israel boosts troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave.

May 14, 2021

Israel continued to bombard the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery shells and significantly boosted its deployment of troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave on Thursday.

Palestinians marked the first day of the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday under relentless aerial bombardment with Gaza’s health ministry saying that 103 people, including 27 children, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began late on Monday. More than 580 others have been wounded.

At least six Israelis and one Indian national have also been killed. The Israeli army said hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel and they have added reinforcements near the enclave’s eastern lands.

There have also been more violent confrontations between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel in several cities inside Israel.

In another potential escalation, at least three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel.

Here are the latest updates:

Gaza-Israel operations continue

Reporting from southern Israel, Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett said that operations on both sides were still going on, but there has been a bit of a lull in terms of the most recent rocket fire out of Gaza.

“However, we are still hearing regularly artillery heading into Gaza from locations around here,” said Fawcett.

“Also in the last 10 minutes, the sound of machine-gun fire apparently coming from nearby. Helicopter[s] as well, and so the situation remains that this is a continuing military attack that the Israelis seem intent on continuing.

Read also:
Netanyahu and Pompeo visit Saudi Arabia. Is the Iranian war on the table?

“What we saw earlier was the first of a major movement of heavy armour that we’ve seen so far, tanks, tracked vehicles, heading in a line south towards Gaza, at the same time there was this extremely intensive artillery barrage lasting about an hour, then there was a pause, and then another big artillery barrage coming later.

“It’s not yet clear whether this is a ground invasion, or whether it is a kind of a warning of the potential of a ground invasion. Either way, it is already having a devastating impact it seems in northern Gaza,” he added.

Gaza death toll climbs as Israel escalates aerial bombardment

The death toll in Gaza has climbed above 100 as Israel pounded the enclave with more air raids and artillery shells, while Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel, even as Egyptian negotiators held in-person mediation talks with the two sides.

The four days of cross-border violence showed no sign of abating as Palestinians marked the first day of the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday on Thursday, and the violence has also spread to mixed communities of Jews and Arabs in Israel, a new front in the long conflict.

Read more here.

Pakistan reaffirms support for Palestinians

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken by telephone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the deteriorating situation between Israel and Palestinians.

The Pakistani foreign ministry said that Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the rights of Palestinian people. The ministry said Khan strongly condemned the attacks on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as deadly air strikes by Israel in Gaza.

Read also:
In pictures: Israeli forces storm al-Aqsa Mosque on last Friday of Ramadan

Israel shells north Gaza, destroys houses in the south

Al Jazeera’s Safwat Al Kahlout, reporting from Gaza City, said that in a new development Israel has begun firing barrages of artillery shells into the north of the Gaza Strip.

“Hundreds of families are now evacuating their homes in the north of Gaza because of the heavy artillery shells landing. The ambulance services told us that some of the artillery shells had directly hit some houses in the so-called Bedouin village which is very close to the border,” he said.

“It’s the same scenario of the war of 2014 when hundreds of families also evacuated their homes because of the random shooting.”

Al Kahlout said the Gaza ambulance service told Al Jazeera it has also received appeals for assistance from citizens in the south of the Gaza Strip, mainly in Rafah, as Israeli jets had destroyed houses in air raids without warning.

“They believe that there are lots of people under the rubble. So far, the ambulance services say they have managed to retrieve five bodies – including children and women – from one of the destroyed houses.”

Blinken says rocket attacks against Israel must cease

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against Israel must cease, and also said the United States had been clear that Israel has the right to defend itself.

Blinken made the comments at a joint briefing with Australia’s foreign minister.

Continue reading at