WORLD / MID-EAST
UN Security Council schedules new meeting on Friday
Israel-Palestinian conflict escalates
Published: May 13, 2021 07:58 PM
Israel faced an escalating conflict on two fronts Thursday, scrambling to quell riots between Arabs and Jews on its own streets after days of exchanging deadly fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Israeli soldiers fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on May 13, 2021. Photo: VCG

Israeli soldiers fire a 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on May 13. Photo: VCG

Tunisia, Norway and China have requested another emergency UN Security Council meeting be scheduled Friday on the worsening hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, despite ongoing US resistance for the body to take a role in the conflict.

The session would be public and would include participation by Israel and the Palestinians, diplomats told AFP Wednesday.

The Council has already held two closed-door videoconferences since Monday, with the US - a close Israeli ally - opposing adoption of a joint declaration, which it said would not "help de-escalate" the situation.

Despite diplomatic efforts to halt the violence, which US President Joe Biden said he hoped would end "sooner than later," hundreds of rockets tore through the skies over the Gaza Strip overnight. 

Israel's civil aviation authority said it had diverted all incoming passenger flights headed for Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport to Ramon airport in the south, due to the rocket fire. 

Air raid warnings went off across Israel, including in the country's north for the first time in years - which the army later said was a "false alarm." 

Israel's air force launched multiple strikes, targeting what it described as locations linked to the "counterintelligence infrastructure" of Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, as well as the house of Iyad Tayeb, one of the movement's commanders. 

In Gaza, 83 people were reported killed since Monday - including 17 children - and more than 480 people wounded as heavy bombardment has rocked the crowded coastal enclave and brought down entire tower blocks.

On Wednesday, Hamas announced the death of its military chief in Gaza City, Bassem Issa, with the Israeli military saying it had killed three other senior figures as well. 

Israeli strikes also destroyed a tower block housing Palestinian television channel Al-Aqsa, set up by Hamas.

Israel said Palestinian militants had launched around 1,600 rockets into its territory since Monday evening.

Seven people have been killed, including one 6-year-old after a rocket struck the family home in southern Israel, the United Hatzalah volunteer rescue service said. 

The past few days have seen the most intense hostilities in seven years between Israel and Gaza's armed groups, triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Coinciding with the aerial bombardments is surging violence between Arabs and Jews inside Israel.
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