Gaza ground invasion plan set to be approved as Hamas fires long-range rocket at airport

Israel’s military is set to approve plans for a ground assault into Gaza, with Gaza Division and Southern Command drawing up proposals for sign-off by the country’s political leaders.

Combat troops have moved into position near the enclave as part of “preparing themselves for ground operations”, an army spokesperson told The Independent.

It comes as Hamas said it fired a rocket towards Israel’s Ramon Airport near the Red Sea resort of Eilat. The rocket missed the airfield and there are no reports of any casualties or damage, according to Haaretz.

Militants have fired some 1,600 rockets towards Israel from Gaza in the last few days, according to the Israeli military. That is one-third the total fired in the 50-day-long war in 2014, a barrage James Cleverly, the UK’s Middle East minister, called “unprecedented”.

However, about 400 fell short and landed inside the enclave.

Putin and Guterres call for de-escalation

Vladimir Putin and the United Nations secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, have appealed during a video call for an end to fighting between Israel and Palestinians, the Kremlin said.

«In light of the escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it was noted that the main goal is to stop violent acts from both sides and ensure the safety of the civilian population,» the Kremlin said in a statement.

What would turn the current conflict into all-out war?

As Gaza and Israel continue to trade rockets and airstrikes, fears are growing that the violence could escalate into an all-out war.

The violence has reached deeper into Israel than at any time since the 2000 Palestinian intifada, or uprising, writes Chiara Giordano.

Arab and Jewish mobs are rampaging through the streets, savagely beating people and torching cars, and flights have been cancelled or diverted away from the country’s main airport.

The escalating fighting between the Israeli military and Gaza’s Hamas rulers has echoed — and perhaps even exceeded — their devastating 2014 war.

‘Antisemitic’ protests outside German synagogue

Germany’s leading Jewish group has condemned protests held in front of a synagogue in the western city of Gelsenkirchen as “pure antisemitism”.

Berlin, Hamburg and Hannover have also seen anti-Israeli protests over the past few days as fighting between Israelis and Palestinians intensifies in the Middle East.

At least two synagogues were attacked, and several Israeli flags were stolen and burned.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany tweeted a video of dozens of protesters in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday waving Palestinian and Turkish flags and shouting expletive-filled tirades about Jews.

“Jew hatred in the middle of Gelsenkirchen in front of the synagogue. The times in which Jews were cursed in the middle of the street should have long been over. This is pure antisemitism, nothing else,” the group tweeted on Thursday.

The German government said this week people who abuse Jews must be held responsible and that “Jewish institutions must be protected thoroughly”.

Heiko Maas, the foreign minister, told Funke Media Group on Thursday: “There must be zero tolerance for attacks on synagogues in our country.”

“All of us are called on to make it very clear that we do not accept if Jews in Germany are made responsible for the events in the Middle East – neither in the streets nor on social media.”

The protests in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday were dispersed by police, according to the German news agency dpa, but authorities reported other incidents elsewhere in the country.

Kenyan police break up pro-Palestinian protest

Police in Nairobi fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of more than 200 people protesting on Thursday against the Israeli bombing of the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Several demonstrators were arrested in Kenya’s capital, a Reuters witness said.

The march started after Eid prayers at a nearby mosque. Protesters waved banners with the Palestinian flag and with the words: «Kenyans stand with Palestine» and «Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestine — Nelson Mandela».

«I stand with my brothers and sisters in Palestine and I pray day and night that my sisters and brothers get peace,» said protestor Rayan Sheikh.

Full story: US airlines cancel flights to Tel Aviv as Israel-Gaza conflict escalates

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have cancelled flights between the United States and Tel Aviv, according to data by flight tracker FlightAware, amid the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.

United Airlines said it had halted flights from Chicago and Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv on Tuesday and flights from San Francisco and Newark on Wednesday.

“We have issued a travel waiver to allow customers to adjust their travel through 25 May and will continue to monitor the situation,” a United spokesperson said.

Hamas fires new, longer-range rockets at airport

Hamas said on Thursday it fired a rocket towards Israel’s Ramon Airport near the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

The airport is understood to have briefly halted operations after the rocket landed in the area but missed the airfield. There are no reports of any casualties or damage, as reported by Haaretz.

Israel has redirected some flights to Ramon Airport from its main Tel Aviv-area airport, Ben Gurion, due to the security situation.

Abu Obeida, a spokesperson for Hamas’ Qassem brigades, claimed the new projectiles had a range of 250km.

Video purports to show people taking cover in Eilat after Hamas fires rocket at airport

Johnson ‘very sad’ to see Israeli-Palestinian violence erupt again

Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain wanted to see an urgent de-escalation of violence in Israel after days of clashes between Jewish Israelis and the country’s Arab minority.

«Certainly we in the UK are very sad to see what is happening and the cycle of violence that now seems to be taking place,» the UK’s prime minister told reporters.

«I think it’s important that we break that cycle and we end this idea of reprisals, and I think that what everybody wants to see is urgent, urgent de-escalation.»

‘It’s wrong’: AOC hits out at Biden’s Israel statement as Democrats demand end to Palestinian displacement

A group of 25 House Democrats has urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “exert diplomatic pressure” to stop Israel’s efforts to forcibly displace Palestinians in East Jerusalem, writes Alex Woodward.

“Even our allies must be held accountable for human rights violations,” said US Rep Marc Pocan.

The lawmakers point to the demolition of more than 5,000 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem within the last 50 years, which are “in clear violation” of international laws governing human rights and war crimes, they say.

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