Israel said it deployed ground forces in its attack on Hamas in the Gaza Strip after five days of brutal bombing targeting the Palestinian militant group that fired more than 1,500 missiles at the Jewish state, the Israeli army said.
“Israel Defense Forces air and ground forces are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement. It was not immediately clear whether Israeli forces had entered Gaza
But the deployment of ground forces to the operation would significantly escalate the five-day conflict and increase the prospect of an Israeli invasion, the first since a conflict in 2014 killed 2,000 Palestinians and 72 Israelis.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the militant group took control of the comic in 2007.
Israel has launched a barrage of airstrikes on militants in Gaza for five days, killing 103 Palestinians, including 38 women and children, according to health officials in the comic. In total, 580 were injured.
Despite the bombing, Hamas has continued firing bursts of missiles deep into Israel, and on Thursday, Israeli authorities diverted international flights from Tel Aviv. The militants killed seven Israelis this week, including a soldier and a child, and fired more than 1,500 missiles at Israel.
Israel had deployed additional troops – including two infantry brigades and one armored one – near the Gaza border and on Thursday called on 9,000 additional reservists. The military has previously said it was considering all scenarios, including a possible ground operation.
Without ceasing violence, Egyptian officials tried to bring about a ceasefire, a Western diplomat said. Hady Amr, the US State Department’s top official for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, was also on his way to Israel as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to de-escalate the crisis.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Thursday that Washington was intensively engaged in efforts to de-escalate the situation. Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary-General António Guterres also called for an end to the fighting on Thursday. But the Western diplomat said Israel had previously rejected attempts by Egypt, which borders Israel and Gaza, to stop the fighting.
Israel previously invaded Gaza during wars with Hamas in 2009 and 2014, operations that devastated the impoverished Mediterranean strip. The conflicts killed more than 1,000 and 2,000 Palestinians respectively. However, Hamas has been able to keep a large arsenal of mainly home-made missiles. Since the 2014 war, Israel has been reluctant to send troops to Gaza for fear of its soldiers being kidnapped and other risks associated with such operations.
Israel is stepping up its campaign against Hamas as the country faces the worst community violence in the country in years.
Violence between Israeli Jews and minority Israeli Arabs erupted in several Israeli cities this week, shaking the nation to its core and opening a domestic front that led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to quell the riots with “violence,” a lot of violence “.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has been dominated by fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian factions in the occupied territories for more than a decade, but the violence within the community created a dangerous dynamic, increasing pressure on the Israeli government.
Israeli Arabs account for about a fifth of the population of the Jewish state, carry an Israeli passport and vote in the country’s elections. But they complain about institutional and social discrimination, and their sympathy for the Palestinian cause has made them a target for right-wing politicians.
Speaking Thursday evening in the town of Lod, which has endured the worst of the community’s violence, Netanyahu promised that the security forces, in conjunction with domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet, would be given a free rein to use force to fight the fight. the riots, by telling them not to worry about “committees of inquiry, investigation and control”.
“You have the support, don’t worry,” he said. “To take down rioters, you have to use force, a lot of violence.” He said he is considering approving the use of administrative detentions, which are often used in the occupied West Bank to hold Palestinians for long periods without access to lawyers, and to bring in the military.
As a further sign of the growing crisis, Israel said three missiles were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel on Thursday, underscoring the risk of another front opening. The Israeli military said the missiles landed in the Mediterranean and caused no damage,
It was not clear who launched the missiles, and Israel’s northern border with Lebanon has been silent for the past few months. Lebanon is home to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed movement that waged a month-long war with Israel in 2006, as well as Palestinian refugees and militants. A Lebanese army official said the situation regarding the missiles was still unclear. He rejected reports in the local media that Palestinians had been arrested.
The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Unifil, said Major General Stefano Del Col, the head of the mission, had spoken with the Lebanese military and the IDF to push for de-escalation following this latest missile strike. A Hezbollah spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.