On the fifth day of hostilities, Israel has escalated its assault on Gaza, as Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets into Israel. According to Israel’s military, air and ground forces were involved in Friday’s attacks but had not entered Gaza city. The night sky was lit up by explosions from Israeli artillery and airstrikes, according to a video from Gaza City.
Since the fighting began on Monday, 119 people have died in Gaza, and eight have died in Israel. Meanwhile, Jewish and Israeli-Arab groups have been fighting within Israel, prompting the country’s president to issue a warning about civil war. Defence Minister Benny Gantz has ordered a “massive reinforcement” of security forces to quell the internal unrest, which has resulted in the arrest of over 400 people.
The violence in Gaza and Israel this week is the worst since 2014. It was sparked by weeks of Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem, which resulted in clashes at a holy site revered by Muslims and Jews. The Israeli military said it had carried out an overnight operation to destroy a network of Hamas tunnels known as “the metro,” but no troops had entered Gaza. It went on to say that 220 more projectiles were fired from Gaza on Thursday evening and Friday morning. This escalated into a never-ending barrage of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes.
Amid a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, US President Joe Biden declared that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” During the days-long outbreak of violence that has killed dozens, Biden says he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Earlier, On Wednesday, the US had sent an envoy to Israel amid the harrowing violence in the country.
What triggered the violence?
Days of escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a holy hilltop compound in East Jerusalem sparked the violent fighting between Israel and Hamas. The site is revered by Muslims, who refer to it as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. Hamas demanded that Israel remove police from the area as well as from the nearby predominantly Arab district of Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families are being evicted by Jewish settlers. When Hamas’ ultimatum went unheeded, it launched rockets. Palestinian rage had already been stoked by weeks of rising tension in East Jerusalem, exacerbated by a series of clashes with police since the beginning of Ramadan in Mid- April. It was fueled further by the threat of Jewish settlers evicting Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, as well as Israel’s annual commemoration of its capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, known as Jerusalem Day.