Gaza death toll rises to over 119 as Israeli army sees ground forces join assault

A Palestinian man looks at the destruction of a building hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Gaza braced for more Israeli airstrikes and communal violence raged across Israel after weeks of protests and violence in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

The death toll in Gaza rose in the early hours of Friday after a fresh assault from the Israeli army that saw ground forces join the operation.

A total of 55 rockets were fired overnight in a coordinated effort that saw 160 planes from 12 different squadrons, as well as three brigade forces of infantry troops, operate together, Israeli army spokesperson Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said.

He said the assault was aimed at destroying an “underground tunnel system” known as the “metro” in Gaza.

[Hamas bombard rockets toward Jerusalem, as Israel vows to keep pummelling Gaza]

At least 119 Palestinians have been killed in the violence this week, with 31 children among the dead, Gaza’s health ministry said on Friday. At least 830 others have also been injured in the attacks.

Meanwhile, Lt Col Conricus said the death toll in Israel had risen to 8 after an elderly woman died overnight while running to a shelter.

The Israeli army spokesperson did not provide any update on whether a ground invasion would take place on Friday. However, he said that “Hamas’s rocket production capacity has been significantly  downgraded” following the fresh assault.

The IDF had been drawing up proposals for a ground invasion for sign-off by political leaders.

IDF combat troops have moved into position near Gaza as part of “preparing themselves for ground operations”, an army spokesperson told The Independent.

[Gaza death toll hits 43, as rockets kill five in Israel as hostilities rages on]

Earlier, at least three rockets were fired from Lebanon towards Israel and the US withdrew approximately 120 military and civilian personnel from Israel as the security situation worsened.

Militants have fired some 1,600 rockets towards Israel from Gaza in the last few days, according to the IDF. That is one-third the total fired in the 50-day-long war in 2014, a barrage James Cleverly, the UK’s Middle East minister, called “unprecedented”.

Source: The independent