Death toll rises as violence rocks Gaza, Israel and West Bank

Clay Curtis
May 15, 2021

Seven people have been killed in Israel, including a six-year-old boy.

Palestinians flee their homes in the Gaza Strip on Friday as Israel unleashes a heavy barrage of artillery fire and airstrikes.

Israel's army said it "neutralized" an assailant who attempted to stab at soldier at a military post in Ofra, north of Ramallah.

A furious Israeli barrage early Friday killed a family of six in their house and sent thousands fleeing to United Nations -run shelters.

The seventh was a prosecutor and lawyer, who was seriously injured by Israeli soldiers during demonstrations in support of Gaza and Jerusalem in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and died later in a nearby medical center.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Friday's West Bank clashes, affecting multiple locations, had left more than 100 people wounded, including from tear gas and rubber bullets.

Israel has also massed troops along the border and called up 9,000 reservists following days of fighting with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza.

There was some confusion as to whether Israel had authorized a ground invasion of the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave but it turns out that the ground support was from outside of Gaza's border.

Rocket fire from Gaza and Israel's bombardment of the blockaded Palestinian territory continued into early Saturday, when an airstrike on a three-story house in a refugee camp in Gaza City killed eight children and two women from an extended family - the highest number of fatalities in a single hit.

Pro-Palestinian protests were planned in many Arab towns and villages in Israel on Friday night, including Nazareth.

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French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Netanyahu on Friday, with the French leader condemning the rocket attacks from Gaza but also expressing concern for the civilian population in the territory.

Hamas has fired some 2,000 rockets toward Israel since Monday, according to the Israeli military.

Decrying the "overwhelming violence and force from Israeli police and settlers" against Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, the statement notes specific disturbing incidents that have occurred in East Jerusalem, including "a police officer kneeling on a protester's neck while he shouts he is being suffocated" and Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Arieh King telling a Palestinian activist it was a "pity" that he wasn't shot in the head. He said the aim is to get a "significant reduction in attacks, particularly rocket attacks". Of the 1,800 rockets Gaza militants have fired, more than 400 fell short or misfired, according to the military. He called the effort "a work in progress".

Relentless rocket fire and rioting in mixed Jewish-Arab towns fuelled growing fears Wednesday that violence between Israel and Palestinians that has claimed 56 lives could spiral into "full-scale war". Numerous rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system. The rocket landed in the open desert but briefly disrupted flight traffic at the southern Ramon airport.

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

"Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews, and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs", he said, adding Israel was fighting a battle "on two fronts".

"Israeli state violence is, of course, not limited to Jerusalem".

The unrest has been driven by anger over the looming evictions of Palestinian families from the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

With the conflict showing no signs of easing, Israel has been rocked by an unprecedented wave of mob violence, in which both Arabs and Jews have been savagely beaten and police stations attacked.

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