Gaza crisis: West Bank clashes leave Palestinians dead as fighting intensifies

Henrietta Strickland
May 15, 2021

An Israeli military spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said the focus of Israel's attack on Gaza was the elaborate system of tunnels that Hamas has built over the years.

It was part of a large operation that also involved air strikes and was aimed at destroying tunnels beneath Gaza City used by militants to evade surveillance and air strikes, which the military refers to as "the Metro".

UNIFIL said it had launched an immediate investigation into the incident in the Kfar Kila area of the border.

But in the latest attacks on Israel, Hamas has used medium-range rockets with a range of 25 miles, as well as the M-75 and J-80 rockets, which have ranges of between 50-60 miles.

Early on Friday, the Israeli military said air and ground troops struck Gaza in what appeared to be the heaviest attacks yet. 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. Two of the rockets reportedly landed in the Golan Heights, with another landing in Syrian territory.

In Washington, U.S. 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 UAE called for a ceasefire, while Bahrain expressed its solidarity with the Palestinians.

How are Western nations reacting to the crisis?

Bangladesh is among the U.N.'s 28 member states that do not recognize the state of Israel. It also accuses terror groups of launching rockets from densely populated civilian areas.

What triggered the current round of tensions?

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem, which includes sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, to be the capital of their future state. Right-wing settlers have claimed in legal proceedings that the homes were owned by Jews prior to 1948.

Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, who led prayers Friday at al-Aqsa Mosque, told Reuters that the mosque's "sanctity has been violated several times during the holy month of Ramadan" and he described such violations as "unprecedented" since 1967, the year of the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.

Terrorists in Gaza have launched a heavy barrage of rockets into Israel, saying it was in response to the al-Shati strike.

Muslims also protested Friday across Turkey at the end of Eid al-Fitr prayers.

On Monday, Hamas threatened to shoot rockets towards Jerusalem unless Israeli forces leave the Temple Mount.

"The military wing of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has targeted Israel's nuclear facility, key oil facilities and other sites across the country amid a violent escalation between the two sides".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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