(Feature Photo Above: Palestinians walk next to the remains of a destroyed 15-storey building after being hit by Israeli air strikes on Gaza City [Khalil Hamra/AP])
Death toll in Gaza rises to 103, health authorities say, as Israel boosts troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave.
By Virginia Pietromarchi and Arwa Ibrahim
Israeli fighter jets have continued attacking high-rise buildings and other targets in the Gaza Strip as Israel boosted its deployment of troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave on Thursday.
Palestinians marked the first day of the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday under relentless aerial bombardment with Gaza’s health ministry saying that 103 people, including 27 children, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began late on Monday. More than 580 others have been wounded.
At least six Israelis and one Indian national have also been killed. The Israeli army said hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel and they have added reinforcements near the enclave’s eastern lands.
There have also been more violent confrontations between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel in several cities inside Israel.
Here are the latest updates:
Gaza-Israel operations continue
Reporting from southern Israel, Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett said that operations on both sides were still going on, but there has been a bit of a lull in terms of the most recent rocket fire out of Gaza.
“However, we are still hearing regularly artillery heading into Gaza from locations around here,” said Fawcett.
“Also in the last ten minutes, the sound of machine-gun fire apparently coming from nearby. Helicopter[s] as well, and so the situation remains that this is a continuing military attack that the Israelis seem intent on continuing.
“What we saw earlier was the first of a major movement of heavy armour that we’ve seen so far, tanks, tracked vehicles, heading in a line south towards Gaza, at the same time there was this extremely intensive artillery barrage lasting about an hour, then there was a pause, and then another big artillery barrage coming later.
“It’s not yet clear whether this is a ground invasion, or whether it is a kind of a warning of the potential of a ground invasion. Either way, it is already having a devastating impact it seems in Northern Gaza,” he added.
Gaza death toll climbs as Israel escalates aerial bombardment
The death toll in Gaza has climbed above 100 as Israel pounded the enclave with more air strikes and artillery shells, while Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel, even as Egyptian negotiators held in-person mediation talks with the two sides.
The four days of cross-border violence showed no sign of abating as Palestinians marked the first day of the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday on Thursday, and the violence has also spread to mixed communities of Jews and Arabs in Israel, a new front in the long conflict.
Pakistan reaffirms support for Palestinians
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken by telephone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the deteriorating situation between Israel and Palestinians.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the rights of Palestinian people. The ministry said Khan strongly condemned the attacks on worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as deadly airstrikes by Israel in Gaza.
Israel shells north Gaza, destroys houses in the south
Al Jazeera’s Safwat Al Kahlout, reporting from Gaza City, said that in a new development Israel has begun firing barrages of artillery shells into the north of the Gaza Strip.
“Hundreds of families are now evacuating their homes in the north of Gaza because of the heavy artillery shells landing. The ambulance services told us that some of the artillery shells had directly hit some houses in the so-called Bedouin village which is very close to the border,” he said.
“It’s the same scenario of the war of 2014 when hundreds of families also evacuated their homes because of the random shooting.”
Al Kahlout said the Gaza ambulance service told Al Jazeera it has also received appeals for assistance from citizens in the south of the Gaza strip, mainly in Rafah, as Israeli jets had destroyed houses in air raids without warning.
“They believe that there are lots of people under the rubble. So far the ambulance services say they have managed to retrieve five bodies – including children and women – from one of the destroyed houses.”
Blinken says rocket attacks against Israel must cease
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against Israel must cease, and also said the United States had been clear that Israel has the right to defend itself.
Blinken made the comments at a joint briefing with Australia’s foreign minister.
Gaza death toll rises to over 100
More than 100 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been killed over the past four days of military conflict with Israel, officials in the blockaded coastal enclave.
According to the health ministry in Gaza, 103 people were killed, including 27 children and 11 women, while 580 people have wounded since Monday.
Palestinians carry the bodies of 13 people killed in Israeli air strikes over Gaza [Mahmoud Hams/AFP]2 hours ago (18:42 GMT)
At least three rockets fired from south Lebanon toward Israel
Lebanese security forces say that at least three rockets have been fired from south Lebanon toward Israel.
The Israeli military said the rockets landed in the Mediterranean sea, causing no damage or casualties. It added that rockets were launched from the Qlayleh area north of Naqoura, near the border with Israel.
It was unclear who was responsible for the attack or where the rockets landed, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Israeli media reported that the rockets were apparently fired by one of the Palestinian factions in Lebanon and that it’s not the start of Hezbollah getting involved in the conflict.
No air raid sirens were activated in northern Israel, which the military said was in accordance with “protocol.”
Israel begins firing artillery and tank shells into Gaza
Israel has begun firing artillery and tank shells into Gaza, and scores of families are fleeing their homes, Palestinian witnesses in the Gaza Strip said.
The use of artillery fire marks an escalation in Israel’s four-day-old offensive in Gaza and raises the likelihood of civilian casualties.
The attacks occurred in northern communities near the Israeli frontier and in eastern Gaza City.
Resident Ibrahim Jamal said about 200 people have sought shelter in a United Nations school.
Biden urges reduction in rocket attacks
United States President Joe Biden called for a de-escalation of violence in the Middle East as the conflict in Gaza intensified, saying he wants to see a significant reduction in rocket attacks.
Biden, speaking to reporters at the White House, also said he expects to have more talks with leaders in the region. He added that he has not seen a “a significant overreaction” by Israel to rocket attacks by Hamas from Gaza.
“The question is … how they get to a point where there is a significant reduction in the attacks, particularly the rocket attacks, that are indiscriminately fired into population centres,” Biden said.
Biden spoke on Wednesday with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said conversations were continuing between US diplomats, military and intelligence officers with counterparts in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and others about a de-escalation of violence.
Israel calls up 9,000 reservists as troops mass on Gaza border
Israel’s defence minister has approved the m obilisation of 9,000 more reservist troops amid fighting with Hamas, and Israel’s military spokesman says forces are massing on the border with the Gaza Strip.
The defence ministry said that the latest mobilisation approved by Defence Minister Benny Gantz was an “exceptional call-up”.
US objects to UN meeting on Israel, Gaza on Friday
The United States has objected to a request by Norway, China and Tunisia for a public meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday to discuss the worsening violence between Israel and Palestinian fighters, diplomats said.
Diplomats said Washington cited diplomatic efforts as the reason for their objection, saying a council discussion would not be productive, but left the door open for a possible meeting on Tuesday.
‘A nightmare’: Gaza resident recounts Israeli air strike
Yousef Al Hammash, a resident of the Gaza Strip, told Al Jazeera: “Two days ago, I was in my house with my pregnant wife and three-year-old daughter, trying to convince ourselves that it’s safe to be home.
“At 6pm, an air drone suddenly hit the building. Then came an air strike which landed on the apartment below. I had to flee right away because we expected a rocket next.
“I couldn’t take anything. The next day I returned for two minutes to try to get some clothes and medicine, but then they [Israel] hit again.
“Again, today I had to flee my grandparents’ house with all my family. All we can do is move from place to another place and try to convince ourselves that this time it will be safe. It’s been a nightmare.”
Panic at Ben Gurion Airport
Social media users said that travellers at Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion, were scared and panicked as they ran for shelter after a rocket fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip landed near the airport.
Germany warns of protests as conflict intensifies
Authorities warned of further protests in Germany over the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.
On Wednesday, German police detained more than a dozen men in three cities suspected of damaging a synagogue, burning Israeli flags and starting a fire at a Jewish memorial site.
“Security agencies expect intensifying protest activities by Palestinians in Germany as well as parts of the leftist movement,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
Some of the suspects in the earlier incidents told police the Israel-Palestinian violence had motivated them to throw stones at a synagogue.
▪︎ Abridged version of reports by Aljazeera and news agencies