Israeli forces launch air and ground attacks on Gaza as fighting worsens


Israel blamed an "internal communication" problem for the error - which briefly ignited fears of an Israeli invasion. In Washington, US 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".

The Times of Israel reported that some troops were positioned in an area that is technically part of Gaza's territory but is effectively under Israeli control, and therefore can not yet be deemed a ground offensive.

There were intense artillery exchanges Thursday night with balls of flames rising high into the sky after strikes smashed into densely packed Gaza.

But the deep roots for this are connected to long-term anger towards Israel's eviction policies against Palestinian families and its increasingly tough stance in the Gaza Strip. It fired its most powerful rocket, the Ayyash, almost 200 kilometers (120 miles) into southern Israel on Thursday.

A Hamas military spokesman said an Israeli ground offensive would be "an opportunity to bring more dead soldiers and prisoners of the enemy into our possession".

JERUSALEM - Israeli Justice Minister Benny Gantz has called on the chiefs of big social media platforms to quickly remove content from their sites that incites violence or spreads disinformation.

Palestinians marked the first day of the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday under relentless aerial bombardment.

In addition, strikes killed "a number of terrorists belong to the Hamas naval force", according to a military statement.

At least 103 Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed, according to Palestinian and Israeli official figures.

On the Israeli side, seven people have been killed, including two children and a soldier. Palestinian militants have fired some 1,800 rockets, and the Israeli military has launched more than 600 airstrikes, toppling at least three high-rise apartment buildings, and has shelled some areas with tanks stationed near the frontier.

A heavy barrage of dozens of rockets targets the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, with many intercepted by the Iron Dome air-defense system, reported The Times of Israel.

At the same time, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a fellow Palestinian militant group, have fired close to 2,000 rockets towards Israel.

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A Lebanese army source who requested anonymity said they suspected Palestinian groups were behind the rocket launches.

Since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in mid-April, Palestinians have faced off nightly with Israeli police in East Jerusalem, who put up barriers to stop evening gatherings at the walled Old City's Damascus Gate.

He viewed Biden's policy as "a mere continuation of the unconditional American support" provided under every US administration since Israel's founding.

Smoke rises after an Israeli strike in Al Shejaeiya neighbourhood in the east of Gaza City, on 13 May 2021.

Almost 1,000 border police were called in to quell the violence, and more than 400 people were arrested.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said inter-communal violence in multiple towns was at a level not seen for decades, and that police were "literally preventing pogroms".

In turn, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip would continue as long as necessary.

Israeli far-right groups have clashed with security forces and Arab Israelis, with television footage Wednesday airing footage of a far-right mob beating a man they considered an Arab in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, leaving him with serious injuries.

Mr Netanyahu said the violence was "unacceptable".

The army urged Israelis living in border towns up to four kilometres from Gaza to seek shelter until further notice.

"Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews, and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs", he said, adding Israel was fighting a battle "on two fronts".

"A short while ago, three rockets were fired from Lebanon into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of northern Israel", tweeted Israel Defense Forces (IDF).