Gaza became a battleground early Friday as Israel said that military units were launching an attack on the areas used by Hamas to batter Israel with rockets throughout the week.
“I said that we would charge a very heavy price from Hamas and the rest of the terrorist organizations,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
“We are doing this and we will continue to do so with great force. The last word was not said and this operation will continue as long as it takes to restore peace and security to the State of Israel.”
The Israeli Defense Forces announced the attacks on Twitter, writing, “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.”
IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 13, 2021
Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, told The Times, “There are ground troops attacking in Gaza, together with air forces as well.”
Two hours after the assault began, the IDF reportedly clarified that “while ground forces were newly involved in the fighting, no Israeli troops were actually in Gaza” — implying that troops were firing from within Israel.
The Times of Israel, citing a Hamas source, said more than 150 Israeli airstrikes took place early Friday local time.
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) May 13, 2021
— Sama Abdelfatah (@SamaAbdelfatah5) May 13, 2021
In the initial hours after the assault was announced, it appeared the attack was limited to the border and that Israeli soldiers had not yet crossed into Gaza, based on information from correspondents on the scene. Reports indicated that artillery was being combined with airstrikes to give Gaza its fiercest pounding to date.
‘Tanks, cannons, combat helicopters and other aircraft are now attacking together in the northern #Gaza Strip. This is not a ground entry into the Strip but an extension of the attacks.’ https://t.co/rqUfznqR6D
— The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) May 13, 2021
The attacks come after what The Washington Post estimated to have been more than 1,700 rockets from Gaza fired into Israel.
Rocket attacks continued early Friday local time, even as Israel launched its attack in Gaza.
From the interceptions over Beersheba a short while ago
(Video: מצב בטחוני גלובלי) pic.twitter.com/sQ32N9oua0
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) May 13, 2021
Gaza officials said 109 Palestinians had been killed as of Thursday night and 621 people have been wounded.
Israel has suffered seven deaths in this week’s attacks.
On Thursday, rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel. Israeli media reported the rockets were fired by Palestinians in Lebanon.
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On Thursday, President Joe Biden said he did not think Israel has yet overreacted after being struck by hundreds of rockets.
“One of the things that I have seen thus far is that there has not been a significant overreaction,” he said, according to the New York Post.
“The question is how we get to a point, how they get to a point where there is a significant reduction in the attacks, particularly the rocket attacks that are indiscriminately fired into population centers. I expect I’ll be having some more discussions,” Biden said.
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