Israel renews airstrikes on Gaza, and Hamas fires rockets back, as violence continues for fifth night

Israeli planes renewed airstrikes in Gaza early on Saturday morning, with Hamas militants firing rockets back as violence continued for a fifth night.

At least 11 people were killed in the West Bank on Friday amid the most widespread Palestinian protests in years, with hundreds of young demonstrators in multiple towns clashing with Israeli troops.

According to Palestinian officials, most of those killed had been shot by live ammunition, with 16 fatalities also reported in Gaza yesterday.

A number of protesters were killed after throwing stones at troops, while one was shot for ramming his car into a military post and then trying to stab a soldier, the officials added.

Another man was shot in the head in the West Bank town of al Rihiya, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Key developments:

  • 132 Palestinians have died in Gaza since Monday, including 31 children and 20 women, 900 people have been injured
  • Eight Israelis have died since Monday, including two children and a soldier
  • Israeli forces assembled 9,000 troops along the Gaza border, as well as infiltrating Hamas tunnels
  • Lebanon fired three rockets towards Israel into the Mediterranean Sea in a show of solidarity to Palestinians
  • Hamas have fired thousands of rockets into Israel, with hundreds falling short and landing in Gaza
  • Israel launched its heaviest bombardment yet on Friday, destroying buildings in Gaza City
  • Mob fighting continued between Arabs and Jews in “mixed” Israeli towns, with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin describing it as “senseless civil war”

Israel launched day-long attacks on Friday to destroy what it said were several miles of tunnels, launch sites and weapons manufacturing warehouses used by the militants in an effort to halt the rocket attacks.

Ahead of a UN Security Council session that is due to take place on Sunday, the US Embassy in Israel has sought to “reinforce the need to work towards a sustainable calm”.

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have called for a ceasefire and negotiations, with the UAE offering condolences to all victims.

Israeli cities with mixed Arab and Jewish populations have seen daily violence, with mobs from each community clashing and trashing each other’s property.

Further protests are expected today as Palestinians mark Nakba Bay – Arabic for “catastrophe” – 73 years after the establishment of modern-day Israel.

Amid the widespread West Bank protests, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) fired warning shots at a group of demonstrators who had crossed the border from Lebanon to take part.

The IDF said that the group of youths damaged the border fence and set fire to the area before fleeing back to the Lebanese side.

A Lebanese police official said one protester who was injured by Israeli gunfire had died of their injuries.

Lebanon had fired three rockets towards Israel late on Thursday, in an apparent show of solidarity to the Palestinians in the occupied territories. They landed in the Mediterranean Sea and caused no damage.

Hamas and smaller Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad continued to launch rockets from the strip into Israel on Friday.

Dr Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian politician, told Sky News correspondent Mark Stone in Ramallah that “Hamas and others are saying they are ready immediately for a ceasefire, but Israel is refusing”.

In a video statement on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I said we would extract a heavy price from Hamas.

“We are doing that, and we will continue to do that with heavy force.”

Hamas military spokesman Abu Obeida said the group was not afraid of an Israeli ground invasion, which would be a chance “to increase our catch” of Israeli soldiers.

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