Israel faced an escalating conflict on two fronts Thursday, scrambling to quell riots between Arabs and Jews on its own streets after days of exchanging deadly fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Despite diplomatic efforts to halt the violence, which US President Joe Biden said he hoped would end “sooner than later”, hundreds of rockets tore through the skies over the Gaza Strip overnight.
What Has Caused The Tension?
Israel’s civil aviation authority said it had diverted all incoming passenger flights headed for Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to Ramon airport in the south, due to the rocket fire.
Air raid warnings went off across Israel, including in the country’s north for the first time in years — which the army later said was a “false alarm”.
Israel’s air force launched multiple strikes, targeting what it described as locations linked to the “counterintelligence infrastructure” of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, as well as the house of Iyad Tayeb, one of the movement’s commanders
In Gaza, 67 people have been killed so far — including 17 children — and nearly 400 wounded in days of near relentless Israeli air strikes.
On Wednesday, Hamas announced the death of its military chief in Gaza City, Bassem Issa, with the Israeli military saying it had killed three other senior figures as well.
Israeli strikes also destroyed a tower block housing Palestinian television channel Al-Aqsa, set up by Hamas.
Israel said Palestinian militants had launched around 1,600 rockets into its territory since Monday evening.
Seven people have been killed, including one six-year-old after a rocket struck the family home in southern Israel, the United Hatzalah volunteer rescue service said.
The past few days have seen the most intense hostilities in seven years between Israel and Gaza’s armed groups, triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.