After amassing troops at the Gaza border, the Israel Defense Forces say they’ve carried out airstrikes against a vast network of Palestinian militant tunnels in Gaza City.
- Parts of northern Gaza have been hit by heavy airstrikes and artillery
- The Israeli army says it targeted a huge network of Palestinian militant tunnels
- Hamas has fired dozens of rockets towards Israel in retaliation
- Israelis living near the Gaza border have rushed to bomb shelters
- The IDF has said no troops are currently on the ground within the Gaza Strip
- At least 119 Palestinians have died, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry
- Nine people have been killed in Israel
This live article was last updated at 10:12 UTC
US ignoring Palestinians’ plight, says Beijing
China has accused the United States of “ignoring the suffering” of Muslims, after Washington blocked a scheduled United Nations Security Council meeting aimed at addressing the latest Middle East conflict.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying contrasted Washington’s reluctance 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 realize that the lives of Palestinian Muslims are equally precious,” she said.
Washington has defended the Jewish state’s deadly offensive, but President Joe Biden’s administration has also voiced alarm over civilian casualties.
The UN says US objections to talks have been overcome and the Security Council is now due to meet on Sunday.
Palestinians flee Israeli strikes in northern Gaza
Palestinian families, many carrying supplies, sought refuge on Friday in temporary shelters in central Gaza City as Israel’s military pounded northern Gaza in an attempt to destroy a vast network of militant tunnels.
The Associated Press reported how fleeing families arrived in pickup trucks, on donkeys and by foot at schools run by the United Nations, hauling pillows and pans, blankets and bread.
Men lugged large plastic bags and women carried infants on their shoulders, cramming into classrooms.
The tunnels lie in heavily populated areas and the strikes destroyed or heavily damaged several homes, news agencies reported.
ICC warning to Israelis, Palestinians
Those involved in new bloodshed between Israelis and the Palestinians could face an International Criminal Court investigation now underway into alleged crimes in earlier bouts of the conflict, the court’s top prosecutor said in an interview.
The ICC’s Fatou Bensouda told Reuters news agency she would press ahead with her inquiry even without the cooperation of Israel, which accuses her office of antisemitic bias.
Just like its closest ally the United States, Israel has rejected membership in the treaty-based court, objecting to its jurisdiction. The court investigates genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression within member states or when referred to by the UN Security Council.
“This is just to alert people on all sides not to escalate, to be careful to avoid taking actions that will result in the commission of crimes,” Bensouda said in a reference to the current hostilities.
In March her office said it was opening a formal probe into suspected crimes in the conflict after nearly five years of preliminary inquiries.
Gaza hospitals ‘barely coping’ with wounded
The latest flare-up in the Israel-Gaza conflict amid the coronavirus pandemic has left hospitals in the Palestinian territory “barely coping,” Gaza Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency Matthias Schmale told DW.
“If this [fighting] continued, if there were a ground offensive, the hospitals would very, very soon reach maximum capacity, and that would be a serious humanitarian problem,” he said.
Schmale said people in Gaza are in despair and terrified of the fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants.
There is a “rising human cost” to the fighting, he said, adding that thousands of people are seeking shelter in schools and that “the despair and humanitarian needs are growing.”
Schmale said people need assistance meeting their food and water needs and that aid is also needed to address the serious mental health costs of the ongoing fighting following a 14-year blockade and the COVID-19 pandemic.
IDF: Hamas using tunnel network to launch rocket attacks
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have released more details about their midnight raid on a network of Palestinian military tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
The air and artillery strikes followed a new barrage of rocket fire from the enclave run by the Islamic militant group, Hamas.
Israeli fighter jets struck 150 targets early Friday, many of which were tunnels, dug under civilian areas. They also targeted a drone launch pad in Gaza, the IDF said on Twitter.
Army spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel system, named Metro, operated as a sort of “city under the city.”
IDF said Hamas had been using the tunnels to launch rocket attacks into Israeli territory.
The army said it “wasn’t feasible this time” to forewarn civilians as it did ahead of strikes on Gaza tower blocks earlier this week.
IDF posted a video, purporting to show the bombing of one of the targets.
Several homes in densely populated Gaza were destroyed or heavily damaged, the AFP news agency reported, citing their own correspondents.
Fresh clashes in the West Bank
Clashes broke out early Friday between Palestinians and Israeli forces in several parts of the West Bank where a protest had been taking place, the Maan news agency reported.
Earlier, the agency said on Facebook that similar clashes were underway at a refugee camp in Hebron and in the northern city of Jenin. The WAFA news agency said 10 Palestinians were injured by live fire from Israeli soldiers near the separation barrier in northeast Jenin.
Palestinian death toll hits 119
The Palestinian Health Ministry said, as of Friday morning, 119 Palestinians have died and 830 have been injured since the conflict erupted last week.
Health officials in northern Gaza said a woman and her three children were killed during the Israeli airstrikes overnight, that targeted a network of Palestinian militant tunnels. Their bodies were recovered from the rubble of their home.
Nine Israelis have been killed, according to Israeli media. The most recent were the deaths of two women — one elderly — while running to air-raid shelters.
Israel strikes tunnel network under Gaza City
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Friday some 160 of its aircraft struck a network of tunnels under Gaza City, which had been dug by the Islamic militant group, Hamas. The midnight airstrikes, lasting nearly 40 minutes, dropped 450 missiles on 150 targets.
The military said it was the largest strike since the fighting broke out earlier this week.
Video footage shared on social media, and taken on Friday morning, purportedly shows the destruction of several buildings.
The IDF also said Friday it shot down a Hamas drone that had crossed into the Jewish-majority state.
Rockets fired from Gaza continued to pound southern Israel on Friday morning, The Times of Israel reported.
Two men wounded in Ashkelon from Gaza rocket barrage
Two men have been wounded and taken to a local hospital in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, following a barrage of rockets from Gaza. The Israeli emergency medical service Magen David Adom said a man in his 50s was in serious condition and taken in for treatment due to shrapnel in his stomach.
Another man in his 90s was in stable condition and taken in for treatment due to a head injury.
Palestinians stage rallies in West Bank against Gaza operation
Palestinians in the West Bank cities of Nablus, Hebron and Jenin staged massive rallies in solidarity with Gaza, according to Palestinian local media. The Palestinian Safa Press Agency tweeted a video of a march in Nablus against the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.
Police in Nablus are using gas canisters to disperse the crowds, the Al-Jazeera Mubasher channel has reported.
UN calls for ceasefire out of respect for Muslim holiday
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all sides to commit to a ceasefire out of respect for the ongoing Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
“Out of respect for the spirit of Eid, I appeal for an immediate deescalation and cessation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel,” Guterres tweeted. “Too many innocent civilians have already died. This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region.”
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan in the Islamic faith. Muslims typically celebrate the holiday by congregating for prayer and eating a special meal, among other practices.
The UN Security Council said it will publicly discuss the escalating situation on Sunday.
IDF clarifies Gaza operations after misleading tweet
An earlier tweet from the IDF about its military operations towards Gaza appeared to cause confusion over whether its troops had actually entered the Palestinian enclave.
Two hours after issuing the tweet, the IDF published a clarification that there was an “internal communication” problem, and said there were “no soldiers” in Hamas-controlled areas of Gaza.
“There are currently no IDF ground troops inside the Gaza Strip. IDF air and ground forces are carrying out strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip,” the clarification said.
Israel urgently warns citizens in Gaza border towns
Israel has asked citizens in towns that lie within four kilometers (roughly 2.5 miles) of Gaza’s border to head to bomb shelters. These citizens are expected to stay in the shelters until further notice.
Israel says troops deployed to Gaza Strip
Israel said it has deployed troops to the Gaza Strip late Thursday, but the extent of their operations is unclear.
“IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a tweet.
IDF spokesperson John Conricus confirmed an operation involving ground troops in comments to AFP news agency.
When asked by Germany’s DPA news agency about the operation, an IDF spokeswoman would not say whether troops had actually entered the Gaza Strip, of if they are carrying out operations from the Israeli side of the border.
Early Friday morning saw some of the heaviest artillery fire and airstrikes on Gaza since hostilities began.
A new barrage of rockets from Gaza followed the IDF announcement. Rocket alarms went off across southern Israel in the cities of Ashdod and Beersheba early Friday, with Hamas saying it shot off 50 rockets toward the area, the Times of Israel newspaper reported.
Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message that military operations against Hamas would “go on as long as possible” and that Hamas would “pay a very high price.”
Hamas warns against ground invasion
A Hamas spokesperson late Thursday warned that the Israeli military would suffer heavy casualties if its troops entered Gaza.
Earlier Thursday, chief Israeli military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, said troops were massing along the Gaza border for a possible ground operation. He said tanks, armored vehicles and artillery were being prepared “for mobilization at any given moment.”
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Thursday he had approved the mobilization of an additional 9,000 reservists, two days after the army mobilized 5,000 reservists.
Israeli troops last entered the Gaza Strip in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge against Hamas.