- Israel says airstrikes and artillery targeted a network of Palestinian tunnels
- Hamas has fired dozens of rockets towards Israel in retaliation
- Clashes have spread to the West Bank
- At least 128 Palestinians have died in Gaza, according to health authorities
- Eight people in Israel have died from the fighting
This live article was last updated at 22:38 UTC
Hamas, Israel trade fire in the early morning
Hamas and Israel have continued to trade fire early on Saturday morning.
Rockets have been fired from Gaza towards the southern Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.
The Israeli air force said it struck three underground launch sites operated by Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip in retaliation.
Palestinian medics said two people were killed in airstrikes in northern Gaza early on Saturday, according to Reuters news agency.
UAE calls for ceasefire, Bahrain condemns Israeli military actions
The United Arab Emirates has called on the Israeli government and Hamas to commit to a ceasefire, according to the state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM).
“The UAE calls on all parties to take immediate steps to commit to a ceasefire, initiate a political dialogue, and exercise maximum restraint,” UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan said in a statement published by the outlet. He said the UAE is “alarmed by the escalating spiral of violence in Israel and Palestine.”
The UAE normalized its relationship with Israel last year as part of the Abraham Accords, which was brokered by former US President Donald Trump’s administration.
Another Gulf nation, Bahrain, also commented on the recent violence.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani held a phone call on Friday with Palestinian Authority Foreign Affairs Minister Riyadh al Maliki, according to a statement from Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Bahraini Foreign Minister condemned “attacks by the Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip” and expressed “brotherly solidarity” with the Palestinian people.
Bahrain also normalized ties with Israel last year as part of the Abraham Accords.
Netanyahu says Arab leaders should condemn communal violence
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Arab leaders in Israel to condemn communal violence between Arabs and Jews, after rioting in Lod and other cities.
“Groups of Arab rioters are attacking Jews all over,” Netanyahu said in video remarks.
“The reaction of Arab community leaders to this day has been very weak,” he added. “Everyone should condemn it, any form of violence, of Arabs against Jews and also of Jews against Arabs. I do so without hesitating for a moment.”
Israeli police say several injured during arrests
Israeli police claim that nine people were injured, four seriously, when officers “encountered violent resistance” while carrying out “important arrests” of people they say were responsible for inciting violence.
The incident occurred in the city of Kafr Kanna when police and Shin Bet security agents were attacked with stones and gunfire as they arrested Kamal Khatib, a deputy in the Northern Branch of the Islamist Movement of Israel, which was outlawed in 2015. Earlier media reports said that five people were injured in the incident
Israeli military: Over 2,000 rockets fired from Gaza since Monday
Israel’s military says more than 2,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza by Hamas since the militant Islamic group began its offensive on Monday. The army says it has intercepted roughly half of those rockets with its Iron Dome missile defense system, which identifies, tracks and engages potentially deadly incoming projectiles before these can reach their target.
The military claims to be under strict orders only to engage those incoming missiles that pose a serious threat. One missile is reported to cost about €66,000 ($80,000) — one of the reasons they are only launched when a projectile is heading towards a populated area.
US to send aid to Palestinians, though does not name recipients
US President Joe Biden’s administration has notified Congress that it intends to send $10 million (€8.2 million) in aid to Palestinian groups in Gaza and the West Bank. Though the administration did not identify specific groups, it said the money would go toward “people-to-people efforts to bring together conflict-affected groups” in projects fostering exchange and reconciliation with Israel.
The US State Department says the money is part of the $130 million that the US has pledged to Palestinians since Biden took office, marking a sharp reversal to the previous Trump administration, which cut off aid almost entirely.
Israel claims rockets fired from Syria
The Israeli military claims that it has identified three rockets fired at it from Syria. Military sources say that one of the rockets landed inside Syria Friday evening, though gave no information on the others. Damascus did not comment on the claim.
Hezbollah member killed at Lebanese-Israeli border
Lebanon’s powerful Islamic militant group Hezbollah claims that a 21-year-old killed by Israeli forces Friday was a fighter with the group. The young man, who was Lebanese, was shot as he and others protesting in support of Palestinians attempted to breach a security fence at the the Lebanese-Israeli border.
West Bank death toll rises to 10
The Palestinian Health Ministry has announced that the number of people killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank had risen to 10 and that the overall death count in Gaza had climbed to 122.
Current fighting in the West Bank has been described as the most intense since the second intifada, which raged between 2000-2005.
Abbas condemns ‘brutal killings’ urges US and UN to help
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas holds Israel responsible for the escalating situation in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to a statement by his office.
The Palestinian leader condemned what he said were “brutal and programmed killings” after 10 more people were killed Friday.
A spokesperson for Abbas called on the US and the UN Security Council to, “shoulder their responsibilities to stop these attacks in order to preserve security and peace in accordance with the provisions of international law.”
UN’s Guterres appeals for immediate end to violence
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called for the immediate “cessation of hostilities” between Hamas and Israel, warning that the conflict could, “unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis” and “further foster extremism” across the entire region. A spokesperson said the UN is “actively involved” in mediating between Palestinians and Israel to resolve the conflict as soon as possible.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet Sunday. The body had planned to convene on Friday but the meeting was blocked by the US, leading China to accuse Washington of “ignoring the suffering” of Muslims.
Press freedom watchdog warns Israel on journalist safety
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Israeli forces to ensure that journalists can work safely and without fear.
It cited local media reports as saying that the destruction of the Al-Jawhara and Al-Shorouk office buildings in Gaza City had left roughly a dozen media outlets without offices in the enclave.
The statement by the CPJ made no mention as to whether any journalists had died in the strikes.
Pro-Palestinian protesters rally in Berlin
Demonstrators took to the streets in Berlin on Friday to protest Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip, the DPA news agency reports.
They waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans like “Freedom for Palestine” and “Stop the murder, stop the war.”
Local police said some 200 people took part in the rally. They were accompanied by more than 200 security forces.
Further rallies are set to be held on Saturday, which marks the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 from what is now Israeli territory.
The Palestinians call this the Nakba, or the catastrophe.
Lebanese state media says protesters wounded by Israeli shells
State media in Lebanon report that two demonstrators have been wounded when dozens rallied on the Lebanon-Israel border to protest against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.
They were wounded “by two Israeli shells that fell near them after a number of youths tried to enter the town of Metula” in northern Israel, the National News Agency said.
The Israeli Defence Forces confirmed on Twitter its tanks had “fired warning shots at a number of rioters who had crossed into Israeli territory.”
France’s Macron stresses ‘urgency’ of peace
French President Emmanuel Macron said “the urgency of a return to peace” in the Middle East during a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to a statement released by the Elysee, the president said Israel had “the right to defend itself” while stressing “his concerns about the civilian population in Gaza.”
Israeli PM warns Hamas of more attacks
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with more attacks against Hamas in Gaza.
‘They attacked our capital, they fired rockets at our cities. They’re paying and will continue to pay dearly for that,’ he said after talks at the Israel Defence Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Death toll in West Bank rises to 7
At least seven Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank, including one who attempted to stab an Israeli soldier, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Violence in the West Bank left over 100 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces using tear gas and rubber bullets, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent cited by news agency AFP.
Israel disperses protesters after crossing border from Lebanon
Israeli forces opened fire to disperse protesters who crossed the Lebanese border with Israel, the IDF said.
According to KAN broadcaster, dozens of Hezbollah-backed rioters had marched near the border fence.
“The [rioters] sabotaged the fence, set fire to the area and then returned back to Lebanon,” the IDF said.
Jordanian protesters march near West Bank border
Crowds from Jordan gathered near the border with the West Bank to protest Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and violations in Jerusalem, Jordan’s state news agency reported.
Demonstrators marched to the Al-Karameh area, near the Allenby Bridge border crossing, known in Jordan as the King Hussein Bridge.
Jordanian riot police forcibly dispersed protesters trying to reach the bridge, Reuters news agency reported.
Pictures circulated on social media platforms showed hundreds of protesters carrying Palestinian flags amid heavy security presence. Some footage showed others marching towards the border area.
Activists had urged the Jordanian government to open the borders and let them go to support Palestinians.
Israel seeks help from social media sites
Israeli Justice Minister Benny Gantz called on social media platforms to quickly remove content from their sites that incites violence or spreads disinformation.
The current round of violence is “intentionally stirred through social media by extremist elements” sworn to damage Israel, Gantz told executives of Facebook and Tik Tok during a Zoom meeting, according to a ministry spokesman.
The minister described the violence as “a moment of social emergency, and we expect your assistance.”
The spokesman said that social media platforms expressed their commitment to act quickly and effectively to prevent incitement.
Israel security agency denounces domestic mob attacks
The head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet says it won’t tolerate ethnic violence “by Arabs nor by Jews” after nightly clashes this week in some of the country’s cities.
Chief Nadav Argaman said Friday that the agency “will not allow violent lawbreakers to carry out terrorism on the streets of Israel.”
The cities of Lod, Jaffa, Haifa and others have been rocked by apparent revenge attacks by Arab and Jewish mobs over the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Argaman said Shin Bet is working with Israeli police and Border Patrol in those mixed cities.
The effort is aimed at identifying, catching and prosecuting “whoever tries to hurt Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs, until peace returns to the streets of the country.”
Palestinian shot dead, airstrike targets ammunition truck
Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank after he attempted to stab a soldier, the army and Palestinian health ministry said.
The army said “the assailant arrived in his vehicle to a military post adjacent to the community of Ofra, north of Ramallah, and accelerated” towards a soldier before the attempted stabbing.
Meanwhile, an Israeli warplane attacked a vehicle near the Syrian-Lebanese border at dawn, without causing casualties, a Lebanese security source says.
The attack took place near the Lebanese Hermel region, close to the Syrian border.
Unconfirmed reports said a military vehicle carrying ammunition for the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah was targeted.
Merkel spokesman: Hamas rockets are ‘terrorist attacks’
Germany has fiercely condemned the rocket attacks by militant Palestinians from Gaza on Israel and underlined the Jewish-majority state’s right to self-defense.
“There are terrorist attacks,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Friday on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Nothing justifies such terror.”
A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Israel’s security was of the utmost importance to Germany.
“The goal is to end the violence as quickly as possible,” the spokesman said. “For this [to happen], it is necessary that the rocket fire against Israel is stopped immediately.”
Seibert also said the government would not tolerate anti-Semitic demonstrations in Germany.
“Anyone who uses such protests to scream their hatred of Jews is abusing the right to demonstrate,” he added.
Anti-Israel protests in several cities this week have drawn concern and condemnation.
A video shot at one demo, outside a synagogue in Gelsenkirchen, showed dozens of protesters waving Palestinian and Turkish flags and yelling expletives about Jews.
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 Israel’s 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 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.
Palestinians riding on an auto rickshaw flee their homes in northern Gaza due to the Israeli air and artillery strikes
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.
fb, wd/wmr (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)