Gaza violence: Pictures show scale of destruction amid threat of Israeli invasion

·Freelance Writer
·4-min read

Watch: Israel masses troops along Gaza as conflict escalates

Israel has massed troops at the Gaza border as tensions and violent clashes with Palestine continue to escalate.

Unrest in recent days has seen rockets fired from Gaza while Israeli forces have bombarded the territory with air strikes, in the most serious fighting since the 50-day war in 2014.

Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, claiming to be defending Jerusalem, have fired hundreds of rockets at Tel Aviv and other cities.

Israel's response has targeted police and security installations, although the Palestinian authorities said there have been civilian casualties.

Pictures released in the past 48 hours highlight the level of destruction wrought by the escalation of hostilities in the region.

Smoke and flames rise from a tower building as it is destroyed by Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza City. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Smoke and flames rise from a tower building as it is destroyed by Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza City. (Reuters)
Palestinians gather around the ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)
Palestinians gather around the ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters)

Israel has prepared combat troops along the Gaza border and was in “various stages of preparing ground operations”, a military spokesman said, a move that would recall similar incursions during Israel-Gaza wars in 2014 and 2008-2009.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has vowed to continue acting to strike at the military capabilities of Hamas – which is regarded as a terrorist group by the UK, US and Israel – and other Gaza groups.

As many as 10 senior Hamas military figures were killed on Wednesday as Israel pressed ahead with a fierce military offensive.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 69 Palestinians, including 16 children and six women, according to the health ministry.

A total of seven people have been killed in Israel, including four on Wednesday.

Watch: More explosions hit Gaza, clashes in the West Bank

Health authorities in Gaza said they were investigating the deaths of several people overnight who they said may have inhaled poisonous gas.

Samples were being examined and they had yet to draw any final conclusions, they said.

With concern growing that the violence that flared on Monday could spiral out of control, the US is sending an envoy, Hady Amr, to the region.

A combination picture shows a tower building before and after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Gaza City. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
A combination picture shows a tower building before and after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Gaza City. (Reuters)
A man stands atop rubble as he surveys the damage after a rocket launched overnight from the Gaza Strip hit a residential building in Petah Tikva, Israel. (Reuters/Nir Elias)
A man stands atop rubble as he surveys the damage after a rocket launched overnight from the Gaza Strip hit a residential building in Petah Tikva, Israel. (Reuters)

US president Joe Biden said he hoped fighting “will be closing down sooner than later”, while UK minister for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said on Thursday morning that Israel has a “legitimate right to defend itself but must do so proportionately”.

Cleverly said Hamas has been firing rockets “indiscriminately” into civilian areas, which he called “completely unacceptable”.

Boris Johnson has also called for restraint on both sides as he urged leaders to “step back from the brink”, adding that the UK is alarmed at the mounting toll of civilian casualties.

Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel. (Reuters/Amir Cohen
Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel. (Reuters)
A picture taken with a drone shows the ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)
A picture taken with a drone shows the ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters)
GAZA CITY, GAZA - MAY13: Palestinians search their belongings as rescue efforts continue to evacuate Palestinians from the rubble of the buildings destroyed by ongoing Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, at Al Bureij refugee cam in Gaza City, Gaza on May 13, 2021. Palestinians in Gaza Strip observe Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, under Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. (Photo by Hassan Jedi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Palestinians search their belongings as rescue efforts continue to evacuate Palestinians from the rubble of the buildings destroyed by ongoing Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers pay homage to their late fellow solider Omer Tabib, 21, during his funeral in Elyakim in northern Israel, on May 13, 2021. - Tabib was killed when Palestinian militants in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile near the border, the army said, amid tit-for-tat rocket fire and air strikes. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers pay homage to their late fellow solider Omer Tabib, 21, during his funeral in Elyakim in northern Israel. (AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin called for an end to “this madness”.

He said: “We are endangered by rockets that are being launched at our citizens and streets, and we are busying ourselves with a senseless civil war among ourselves.

Israel's domestic unrest has been welcomed by Hamas – with one spokesmen urging Arab citizens to "rise up" against "our enemy and yours”.

A Palestinian boy walks past the remains of a tower building which was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)
A Palestinian boy walks past the remains of a tower building which was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City. (Reuters)
A picture taken with a drone shows the ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)
A picture taken with a drone shows the ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in the northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters)
TOPSHOT - Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP) (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)
Smoke billows from an Israeli air strike on the Hanadi compound in Gaza City. (AFP via Getty Images)

Ayman Odeh, a senior Israeli Arab lawmaker, accused Netanyahu's conservative government of inflaming ethnic tensions.

The latest upsurge in violence has been triggered by tensions in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with clashes at a holy site sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Preparations for Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of a month of day-long fasting, have been sombre in Gaza, as residents brace themselves for further devastation and unrest.

Watch: Cameras capture rockets, interceptions between Israel-Gaza

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