Israel-Palestine conflict International

Not entered Gaza Strip: Israeli army contradicts earlier statement

Rockets fired towards Israel from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 14.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Hours after Israel said that it sent ground forces into action in Gaza in response to a new barrage of rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave, the Israeli army issued a clarification contradicting it's earlier statement.

"Israeli planes and troops on the ground are carrying out an attack in the Gaza Strip," the Israeli army had said in a brief message on Friday. However, it later clarified that its troops had not entered the Gaza Strip as it had earlier stated, blaming an “internal communication” problem for the confusion.

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Israel continued to bombarded Gaza with artillery and air strikes on Friday, as a part of an intensifying conflict that has now claimed 127 lives. Additionally, Israel security forces are scrambling to contain deadly riots between Jews and Arabs, with projectiles also fired on Israel from Lebanon.

U.S. reacts

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was "deeply concerned about the violence in the streets of Israel", voicing support for a United Nations Security Council meeting "early next week" on the crisis.


"We believe that Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, security, dignity and prosperity," Mr. Blinken said.

There were intense artillery exchanges Thursday night, and AFP reporters saw Israeli troops assembling at the security barrier.

Balls of flames rose high into the sky after strikes smashed into densely packed Gaza.

Dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza towards the southern Israeli coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, and in the vicinity of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

"We are prepared, and continue to prepare for various scenarios," Mr. Conricus said, describing a ground offensive as "one scenario".

In Gaza, AFP  photographers said people were evacuating their homes in the northeastern part of the enclave ahead of possible Israeli attacks, with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, warning of a "heavy response" to a possible ground incursion.

'Massive reinforcement'

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.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered a "massive reinforcement" to suppress the internal unrest.

The heavy bombardments coincided with the start of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, and saw the faithful pray at mosques and amid the rubble of Gaza's collapsed buildings.

Israel's air force launched multiple air strikes, targeting locations linked to Hamas, with the air force saying jets had struck a "military compound" of the group's "intelligence headquarters".

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:09:27 AM |

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