Palestinians walk next to the remains of a destroyed building after being hit by Israeli airstrikes on Thursday. AP
Gulf Today Report
Israeli troops massed at Gaza's border on Thursday and Palestinian militants pounded Israel with rockets in intense hostilities that have caused international concern and touched off clashes between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
At least 83 people have been killed in Gaza since violence escalated on Monday, medics said, further straining hospitals already under heavy pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reuters.
Days of violence between Jewish Israelis and the country's Arab minority worsened overnight, with synagogues attacked and fighting breaking out on the streets of some communities.
Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City on Thursday. Hatem Moussa/AP
With concern growing that the violence that flared on Monday could spiral out of control, the United States is sending an envoy, Hady Amr, to the region. But efforts to end the worst hostilities in years appear so far to have made no progress.
One rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave crashed into a building near Israel's commercial capital of Tel Aviv, injuring five Israelis, police said. Sirens blared in cities across southern Israel, sending thousands running for shelters, according to Reuters.
In renewed airstrikes on Thursday, Israel destroyed a six-storey residential building in the heart of Gaza City. One man was killed by an Israeli missile fired east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, medics said.
Israeli soldiers fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Thursday. AFP
A wave of violence between Jewish Israelis and the country's Arab minority also spread in several Israeli cities, with attacks on synagogues and Arab-Jewish fighting in the streets.
Israel has prepared combat troops along the Gaza border and was in "various stages of preparing ground operations", a military spokesman said, a move that would recall similar incursions during Israel-Gaza wars in 2014 and 2008-2009.
"The Chief of Staff is inspecting those preparations and providing guidance," Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.
Health authorities in Gaza said they were investigating the deaths of several people overnight who they said may have inhaled poisonous gas. Samples were being examined and they had yet to draw any final conclusions, they said.
Amid fears the violence could spiral further out of control, Washington planned to send an envoy, Hady Amr, for talks with Israel and Palestinians.
Smoke billows from an Israeli airstrike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza. AFP
US President Joe Biden said he hoped fighting "will be closing down sooner than later". A British minister urged Israel and Hamas to "take a step back" from the escalation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to "continue acting to strike at the military capabilities of Hamas" and other Gaza groups. Hamas is regarded as a terrorist group by the United States and Israel.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed a senior Hamas commander and bombed several buildings, including high-rises and a bank, which Israel said was linked to the faction's activities.
Hamas signalled defiance, with its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, saying: "The confrontation with the enemy is open-ended."
Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories went on strike in a rare collective action against Israel's policies on Tuesday as Israeli strikes rained down on Gaza and Hamas group fired dozens of rockets from the Hamas-ruled territory.
The Health Ministry said the latest airstrikes left at least two dead and 25 wounded, including children and women. It said rescuers are still digging through the rubble and had so far pulled up five more wounded.
The most intense hostilities in seven years have killed at least 48 people in Gaza, including 14 children, two Palestinians in the West Bank, and five Israelis, triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
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