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Israeli army 'threatens ground invasion' of Gaza amid flare up in violence: reports

Netanyahu vowed more strikes on the blockaded Palestinian enclave [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 May, 2019

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The Israeli army has said it will launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after a major escalation of conflict with Palestinian groups over the weekend.

The Israeli army has said that it is ready to launch a ground attack on the Gaza Strip, following a major escalation in violence between Israel and Palestinian armed factions. Around 450 rockets have been fired from the besieged Gaza Strip into Israel over the past two days.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesman said the 7th brigade of the army had been deployed to the border of the Gaza Strip "on standby for offensive mission", according to a report by the UK-based Independent.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday he had ordered the military to launch further strikes on the  Gaza Strip.

"I instructed the (military) this morning to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip and ordered (it) to reinforce the troops around the Gaza Strip with tanks, artillery and infantry forces," Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

Israeli aircraft and gunboats have been pounding Gaza with strikes since Saturday which have intensified since.

The escalation started when four Palestinians, including two Hamas militants, were killed by Israeli gunfire during weekly demonstrations at the Gaza Strip’s border. Two Israeli soldiers were also wounded.

At least seven Palestinians have been killed and 47 wounded in the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli strikes since Saturday. They include a pregnant mother and her one-year-old daughter.

One Israeli was also killed by a Palestinian rocket in the city of Ashkelon. Israel denied that its airstrikes were responsible for the death of the mother and her daughter, blaming Hamas rockets.

The media office of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip said that 200 civilian buildings in the had been targeted by the Israeli attack. These include residential buildings, mosques, and media agency offices. Seven buildings have been totally destroyed, including one containing the office of the Turkish Anadolu News Agency.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the attack in a tweet saying that the agency “will continue to tell the world about Israeli terror and atrocities in Gaza”.

Israel has also targeted training facilities and observation posts belonging to Palestinian armed factions. Two members of the Islamic Jihad group were killed in the airstrikes this morning.

The website of Saraya al-Quds, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, said that Palestinian factions were ready to widen the scope of their rocket attacks, adding that “the resistance had targeted the enemy’s cities with new rockets with great destructive power, in response to the targeting of civilians, children and residential buildings.”

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has condemned the Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip, saying, “the Israeli leadership has once again demonstrated its policy of using excessive force against 2 million civilians who have been besieged for more than 13 years.”

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