Israel fired artillery and mounted more air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Friday, in an intensification of a conflict that has now claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives.
Days of deadly violence have seen Israeli soldiers massing on the edge of the territory, although the army stressed there had been no ground incursion despite an earlier statement that troops were carrying out an attack “in the Gaza Strip”.
Israeli security forces have also been scrambled to contain deadly riots between Jews and Arabs, and projectiles have been fired from Lebanon.
Images early Friday showed large balls of flame turning the night sky orange in densely packed Gaza, while rockets were seen tracing through the air towards Israel.
The United Nations said the Security Council would meet on Sunday to address the conflict as the world body's Secretary-General called for “an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities”. “Too many innocent civilians have already died,” Antonio Guterres tweeted.
Out of respect for the spirit of Eid, I appeal for an immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel. Too many innocent civilians have already died. This conflict can only increase radicalization and extremism in the whole region.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 13, 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was “deeply concerned about the violence in the streets of Israel”, and the State Department urged citizens to “reconsider travel to Israel”.
Several international airlines — including KLM, British Airways, Virgin, Lufthansa and Iberia — cancelled flights amid the aerial onslaught.