Israel on Friday continued to bombard the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and shells, shutting eyes to international condemnation, killing more than 100 people.
According to the media reports, the latest fatalities bring to 113 the official death toll, including at least 31 children.
Residents of northern Gaza, near the Israeli frontier, said they had seen no sign of Israeli ground forces inside the enclave but reported heavy artillery fire and dozens of airstrikes.
Israeli security forces have also been scrambled to contain deadly riots between Jews and Arabs, and projectiles have been fired from Lebanon.
Images early Friday showed large balls of flame turning the night sky orange in densely packed Gaza, while rockets were seen tracing through the air towards Israel.
Videos doing rounds on social media also showed several alleged Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian homes in the city of Hebron in the West Bank early on Friday.
The United Nations said the Security Council would meet on Sunday to address the conflict as the world body’s Secretary-General called for “an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities”. “Too many innocent civilians have already died,” Antonio Guterres tweeted.
“This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region.”
Out of respect for the spirit of Eid, I appeal for an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel. Too many innocent civilians have already died. This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 13, 2021
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement on Friday said the Israeli military operation against Palestinian militants in Gaza would continue for as long as necessary. He said Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, would pay a heavy price.
אמרתי שאנחנו נגבה מחיר כבד מאוד מהחמאס. אנחנו עושים זאת ואנחנו נמשיך לעשות זאת בעוצמה רבה.
המילה האחרונה לא נאמרה והמבצע הזה יימשך ככל שיידרש. pic.twitter.com/s5JcAm5vut
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 13, 2021
Moreover, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was “deeply concerned about the violence in the streets of Israel”, and the State Department urged citizens to “reconsider travel to Israel”.
Meanwhile, several international airlines — including KLM, British Airways, Virgin, Lufthansa, and Iberia — canceled flights amid the aerial onslaught.
The heavy bombardments coincided with the start of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, and saw the faithful pray at mosques and amid the rubble of Gaza’s collapsed buildings.
Israel’s air force launched multiple airstrikes, targeting locations linked to Hamas, with the air force saying jets had struck a “military compound” of the group’s “intelligence headquarters”.
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