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Israeli ground troops increase around Gaza Strip

Posted May. 15, 2021 08:05,   

Updated May. 15, 2021 08:05


With Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas five days into a brutal armed conflict, Israeli ground forces are building up around the Gaza Strip. Concerns are growing as they may break into the area very soon. As of Friday, the conflicts took the lives of a total of 122 victims - 115 Palestinian and seven Israeli people – and left more than 800 injured.

Israeli ground troops joined the battlefield by shelling the Gaza Strip from a nearby border area past midnight on Friday (local time), according to Reuters. Israel had made an air raid on the Gaza area since Monday when both side launched conflict. Israeli military announced in a statement right after midnight on Friday that air and ground troops were attacking the Gaza Strip. In response, Hamas launched dozens of rockets.

The day before ground attack, Israel dispatched its ground forces around the Gaza Strip, calling up some 9,000 reserve forces. Residents within a radius of 4 kilometers of the area in question were ordered to evacuate. Back in 2014 during a 50-day war, more than 2,200 people were killed in the Gaza Strip as 60,000 Israeli troops carried out ground operations in the Gaza area.

The ongoing military conflict started off on Monday when Hamas launched rockets, calling on Israeli police forces to withdraw from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. It has since escalated to air strikes by Israeli fighter jets.

The fierce attack from the Israeli side is seen as a premeditated political scheme with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at risk of being sacked, say some experts. Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, who rivals the prime minister, last Wednesday was assigned the best chance of forming a new coalition to widen the political spectrum of the party by embracing Arabs and anti-Netanyahu groups. As the armed conflict with Hamas is folding rapidly, the formation of a new coalition has been delayed.

Hyun-Seok Lim lhs@donga.com