Israel, renewed attacks on Gaza. Rumours of a ground operation denied
Over 150 "underground targets" in the Strip were hit overnight. Three rockets launched from Lebanon in the direction of Israel. Netanyahu warns: "The operation will last as long as necessary". Clashes in Israel between Orthodox and Arabs. President Rivlin appeals for calm. Fears of an internal civil war.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Israel intensified military operations against Hamas in Gaza overnight with fighter jets, helicopters and troops on the ground, hitting over 150 "underground targets". However, the rumours circulated of a ground attack in the Strip remain unconfirmed.
In response, Palestinian militias have stepped up rocket and missile launches on southern Israel. At least three rockets were launched from Lebanon in the direction of Israel, but they crashed into the sea without causing damage. In this case, Hezbollah's involvement was denied.
The news of a ground operation was initially reported by some international media based on a note in English by the Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus which fuelled confusion among reporters. Some experts hypothesize a plan by the top military to try to deceive Hamas, in the context of a battle that is also "psychological, as well as military".
Interim Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened Palestinian militias saying that they will pay a "high price" for launching missiles at the Israeli population and that "the operation will continue for as long as necessary".
“We will act with all our strength - he added - against the enemies outside and against the outlaws inside to restore calm to the State of Israel”. Since the start of hostilities from Gaza, over 1,800 rockets have fired in the direction of Israeli cities, 90% of which were intercepted by the "Iron Dome" defence system.
Meanwhile, hopes are fading for a de-escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, triggered in recent weeks by the blockade of prayer and access to the Temple Mount during Ramadan and by the dispute over some properties in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.
The updated toll speaks of over 100 victims in Gaza, including 27 children, and more than 600 injured; at least seven victims on the Israeli front.
The military clash between the Israeli army and Palestinian Hamas militiamen risks causing repercussions even within Israel: in the last few hours there have been clashes between Orthodox Jews and Arab-Israelis in various parts of the country.
The epicentre of the new outbreak of violence was the town of Lod, not far from Tel Aviv, where scuffles, cars set on fire and Molotov cocktails and beatings took place. Netanyahu threatened to send the army to restore order and calm.
President Reuven Rivlin is more cautious, inviting the parties to calm down, fearing the concrete danger of a civil war within the country, while a new emergency meeting of the UN Security Council is scheduled for today in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis with the participation of Israeli and Palestinian representatives.