Tel Aviv – Israel continued to bomb the Gaza Strip on Friday with artillery and airstrikes in response to another barrage of rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled enclave. More than 100 people have been killed in Gaza and eight in Israel as the conflict continues to escalate.
Days of violence saw Israeli soldiers massing on the edge of the territory, although the military stressed that there had been no ground incursions.
The Israeli Defense Forces tweeted earlier Thursday that “air and ground troops are attacking the Gaza Strip,” and CBS News and other media reported troops were on the ground. An army spokesperson later told CBS News that there are currently no ground troops inside the Gaza Strip, but said air and ground troops are carrying out strikes. on targets there.
In recent days there has beenmixed Jewish and Arab towns in Israel as violence between neighbors spreads.
The central city of Lod has seen some of the worst violence. Images captured on a cell phone show what the government calls “Jewish extremists” marching through Arab neighborhoods, calling for blood.
“They move through our streets, they throw stones, they shout at us, they beat,” said Rana Masimi, an Israeli Arab who teaches English at the local high school.
Shauli Rappaport, who is part of Lod’s Jewish community, says he sees no way forward.
The unrest sparked a massive increase in security. The IDF said two infantry units and one armored unit were on the Gaza border and plans had been made for a possible land incursion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli military operation will continue for as long as necessary and that Hamas will pay a heavy price.
An urgent United Nations Security Council meeting requested for Friday was dropped after US resistance to hold a second session within a week. However, it now appears that a meeting will take place on Sunday.
President Biden said Israel has the right to defend itself as Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, which responded with airstrikes. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he is sending a high-ranking diplomat to the region in hopes of a truce.
Blinken spoke to Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, whose Fatah faction rules the West Bank but has little control over Hamas-controlled Gaza. Blinken “expressed his condolences for the lives lost as a result” of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to a reading of the appeal provided by the State Department.
UN and Egyptian officials said efforts to establish a ceasefire were underway and an Egyptian delegation arrived in Israel on Thursday, but there were still few signs of progress.