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World

Jewish-Arab communal riots erupt in Israel’s cities as Gaza conflict intensifies

  • In renewed airstrikes on Gaza, Israeli warplanes struck a six-story residential building that it said belonged to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Palestinian enclave. Netanyahu said Israel has struck close to a thousand militant targets in Gaza in total.
  • The four days of cross-border violence showed no sign of abating and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the campaign "will take more time".
13 May 2021

Palestinian militants fired more rockets into Israel's commercial heartland on Thursday as Israel kept up a punishing bombing campaign in Gaza and massed tanks and troops on the enclave's border.

The four days of cross-border violence showed no sign of abating and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the campaign "will take more time".

The violence has also spread to mixed communities of Jews and Arabs in Israel, a new front in the long conflict.

Synagogues were attacked and fighting broke out on the streets of some communities, prompting Israel's president to warn of the danger of civil war.

Worried that the region's worst hostilities in years could spiral out of control, the United States is sending an envoy, Hady Amr. Truce efforts by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have so far offered no sign of progress.

In renewed airstrikes on Gaza, Israeli warplanes struck a six-story residential building that it said belonged to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Palestinian enclave. Netanyahu said Israel has struck close to a thousand militant targets in Gaza in total.

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.

"We are facing Israel and Covid-19. We are in between two enemies," said Asad Karam, 20, a construction worker, standing beside a road damaged during the air strikes. An electricity pole had collapsed by the road, its wires severed.

A Palestinian rocket had earlier crashed into a building near Israel's commercial capital of Tel Aviv, injuring five Israelis, police said. Seven people have been killed in Israel since hostilities began, the Israeli military said.

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 the Israel-Gaza wars in 2014 and 2008-2009.

Hamas armed wing spokesman Abu Ubaida responded to the troop buildup with defiance, urging Palestinians to rise up.

"Mass up as you wish, from the sea, land and sky. We have prepared for your kinds of deaths that would make you curse yourselves," he said.

Reports are emerging that Violent confrontations between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis have started in several cities inside Israel. The ongoing crisis may have sparked intra-communal tensions inside Israel.

“All across the country, we’ve seen these similar images of Jews and Arabs facing off in the streets,” Al Jazeera reported.

“This is a parallel and extremely concerning development for the [Israeli] government, even as it continues to conduct this extensive and accelerating military operation in and around Gaza.”