Death toll rises as violence shakes Gaza, Israel and West Bank By Reuters




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© Reuters. Smoke and flames rise during Israeli airstrikes, as cross-border violence between the IDF and Palestinian militants continues, in Gaza City on May 14, 2021. REUTERS / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Stephen Farrell

GAZA / JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli planes renewed their airstrikes in Gaza early on Saturday and Hamas militants responded by firing rockets at Israel as their battle entered the fifth night and US and Arab diplomats sought to end the violence.

Palestinian doctors said at least two people were killed in one of the many airstrikes in northern Gaza. Residents said Israeli navy boats fired shells from the Mediterranean, although none could hit the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Ministry of Religious Affairs said Israeli planes destroyed a mosque. A military spokesperson said the military was checking the report.

Sirens sounded in two major cities in southern Israel to warn of gunfire from Gaza. Hamas claimed responsibility for launching the rockets.

With no sign of an end to the fighting, casualties have spread further, with Palestinians reporting 11 dead in the occupied West Bank amid clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces.

At least 128 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday, including 31 children and 20 women, and 950 others injured, Palestinian medical officials said.

Among the eight dead in Israel were a soldier patrolling the Gaza border and six civilians, including two children, Israeli authorities said.

Ahead of a UN Security Council session on Sunday to discuss the situation, Biden administration envoy Hady Amr, deputy assistant secretary for Israel and Palestinian affairs, arrived on Friday.

The US Embassy in Israel said the goal was “to reinforce the need to work for lasting calm.”

Israel launched day-long attacks on Friday to destroy what it said were several kilometers (miles) of tunnels, launch sites and weapons-making warehouses used by militants in an attempt to stop rocket attacks.

In central and southern Israel, from the small towns bordering Gaza to the metropolis of Tel Aviv and south of Beer Sheva, people have adapted to sirens, interruptions to radio and television broadcasts and beeps from cell phones with red alerts that send them scurrying for safety.

Cross-border hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have been accompanied by violence in mixed Jewish and Arab communities in Israel. Synagogues have been attacked and street fighting has erupted, prompting the Israeli president to warn of civil war.

DIPLOMATIC WARNING

Egypt is leading regional efforts to achieve a ceasefire. Cairo was pushing for both sides to cease fire from midnight Friday pending further negotiations, said two Egyptian security sources, with Egypt relying on Hamas and others, including the United States. United, trying to come to an agreement with Israel.

The Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers discussed efforts to end the confrontation in Gaza and prevent “provocations” in Jerusalem, the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

“The talks took a real and serious course on Friday,” a Palestinian official said. “Mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations are stepping up their contacts with all parties in an attempt to restore calm, but an agreement has not yet been reached.”

The UAE on Friday called for a ceasefire and negotiations while offering condolences to all victims of the fighting, citing the promise of September deals that made the UAE and Bahrain the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to establish formal ties with Israel.

State news agency WAM quoted Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the foreign minister, as offering his country’s support to end the tensions.

Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza, launched the rocket attacks on Monday in retaliation for clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians near al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, in East Jerusalem.

The IDF said more than 2,000 rockets had been fired from Gaza into Israel since the start of the conflict, around half of them were intercepted by missile defense systems and 350 had fallen in the Gaza Strip. .

Civil unrest between Jews and Arabs in Israel itself has dealt a heavy blow to efforts by opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to oust the Israeli leader after a series of inconclusive elections, raising hopes that the Israelis will go. at the polls for an unprecedented fifth time in just two years.







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