Israel Gaza violence: Clashes spread to West Bank
Tel Aviv, May 15, 2021
Violent clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians have spread across much of the occupied West Bank, following days of hostility in Gaza.
At least 10 Palestinians are reported to have died in the West Bank unrest, while hundreds have been injured.
Israeli forces used teargas, rubber bullets and live fire, as Palestinians threw petrol bombs, the BBC reported.
At least 122 people have also been killed in Gaza and eight have died in Israel since fighting began on Monday.
Many towns and cities in the occupied West Bank were convulsed by angry protests on Friday, marking a widening of the conflict which has led to continued international calls for calm.
There were running battles between Israeli soldiers and young Palestinians, who appear newly emboldened by the events of the past week, the BBC's Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher said.
Meanwhile, there were protests at the Jordanian and Lebanese borders with Israel, in support of the Palestinians, on Friday. One man died after being hit by Israeli shell fire while protesting, state media in Lebanon reported.
This week's violence in the region is the worst since 2014. It came after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem, which culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site, triggering retaliatory air strikes.
The Israeli military said it conducted an operation overnight to destroy a network of Hamas tunnels that it dubbed "the metro", but no troops had entered Gaza. It added that - over the course of Thursday evening and Friday morning - 220 more projectiles were fired from the Gaza Strip.
In southern Israel, an 87-year-old woman died after falling on her way to a bomb shelter near Ashdod. Other areas including Ashkelon, Beersheba and Yavne were also targeted.
Gaza's health ministry said 31 children were among those killed since fighting began, and many other civilians have died. Another 900 Gazans have also been wounded. Israel says dozens of those killed in Gaza were militants, and some of the deaths were caused by misfired rockets from Gaza.
On Friday, the United Nations said that an estimated 10,000 Palestinians had left their homes in Gaza since Monday because of the conflict.
The conflict has also seen Jewish and Israeli-Arab mobs fighting within Israel itself, prompting the president to warn of civil war. Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered the security forces to suppress the internal unrest on Thursday, and more than 400 people were arrested.
Police say Israeli Arabs have been responsible for most of the trouble and have rejected the accusation that they are standing by while gangs of Jewish youths target Arab homes.