Middle East: Israeli army announces then denies entering Gaza Strip, tensions escalate

The Israeli army denied, early Friday, May 14, having entered the Gaza Strip, as it had supported earlier in the night. Asked by AFP, his spokesperson evokes “an internal communication problem” to justify this denial.

Shortly after midnight, the Hebrew State Army declared that “Israeli air force and ground troops are carrying out an attack in the Gaza Strip.” Asked by AFP, army spokesman Jonathan Conricus confirmed that Israeli soldiers had entered the Palestinian enclave.

Two hours later, the military issued a “clarification” to say “that there were currently no troops in the Gaza Strip”. His spokesman said troops were bombing the Palestinian enclave, but from outside the territory.

Faced with increasing rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Israeli army deployed tanks and other armored vehicles along the barrier separating Israel from the Gaza Strip. “We are ready and we continue to prepare for different scenarios”, had earlier said the spokesman for the army of the Hebrew State, specifying that a ground invasion was “one of the scenarios”. The Ministry of Defense had given the green light to the army to mobilize several thousand reservists if necessary.

At the same time, Israeli forces continued to bombard Hamas-ruling sites in the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of people had to leave their homes in a hurry to flee the strikes. The attacks on the Hebrew state have left 103 dead since Monday, including 27 children, and 580 injured in the Palestinian enclave, according to a latest report from the local health ministry.

Hamas has reacted strongly to the threat of a ground invasion of Gaza. “Any ground incursion into any part of the Gaza Strip will be an opportunity to increase the number of dead and prisoners among the enemy”, warned the armed wing of the Islamist movement, which continued into the night to launch rockets towards the neighboring Israeli south.

The movement announced Thursday a rocket with a range of 250 km towards Israel’s second airport, to which airport authorities have diverted flights to Tel Aviv, due to the fire. Several companies have simultaneously suspended their flights to Ben-Gurion International Airport in the Israeli metropolis.

According to the army, about 90% of the more than 1,750 rockets launched from the Palestinian enclave on Monday were intercepted by the “Iron Dome” missile shield. Seven people have perished on the Israeli side since Monday, among which a child and a soldier.

The conflict is compounded by an escalation between Arabs and Jews in several mixed cities of Israel, a level of violence not seen in decades, according to police. Nearly 1,000 members of the border police have been called in to reinforce these towns, theaters since Tuesday of riots with clashes and exchanges of gunfire. More than 400 people, Jews and Arabs, have been arrested over the past three days.

In Lod for example, there was gunfire at a group of Jews. There was one injured, the police are looking for suspects “a police spokesperson said Thursday. Far-right Israeli groups have clashed with Israeli Arab and security forces in towns.

The conflict was sparked after a barrage of Hamas rockets fired at Israel, in “solidarity” with the more than 700 Palestinians injured in clashes with the Hebrew state police, on the Mosques plaza in East Jerusalem. These clashes had followed several days of sharp tensions and clashes in this sector Palestinian occupied by Israel since 1967, mainly because of threats of eviction of Palestinian families for the benefit of Jewish settlers.

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