Overnight into Friday, the conflict between Israel and Palestine intensified with major Israeli escalations, including ground troops and heavy artillery fire. Palestinians have begun fleeing Gaza as the conflict enters the fifth day of fighting, according to multiple reports.
- Palestinian health officials reported 119 deaths, including 19 women and 31 children, and more than 830 injured since the airstrikes began Monday, according to CNN.
- Israeli military officials have reported eight deaths since the rocket shelling began.
Israel adds ground troops along the border
The Israeli military has called 9,000 army reserves to the Gaza border. Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces tweeted that “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.” Within an hour, the military spokesman clarified to CNN that Israeli troops had not entered the Gaza Strip but were fighting Hamas forces along the border.
- Thursday, some news outlets inaccurately reported that a ground invasion had begun, but, as of yet, no ground war is underway, CNN reports.
However, according to The Associated Press, the Israeli military has indicated the ongoing possibility of a ground invasion, using tank fire to clear tunnel networks in preparation for such an operation.
A Hamas military spokesman said that the group did not fear a ground invasion.
Palestinians begin fleeing Gaza and border regions
The Israeli forces’ intense air and ground assault on Thursday became the largest single-day operation since the conflict began, The New York Times said. Some airstrikes damaged electricity networks in Gaza, with parts of the area losing power during the night.
- Under the increased attacks, Palestinian refugees have begun fleeing to U.N.-run schools for shelter, CNN and USA Today reported.
- Many Palestinians have fled from Gaza and from the northern and eastern frontiers that border Israel ahead of further attacks, according to USA Today.
As the violence continues, Palestinian hospitals struggle to keep up with treating wounded individuals amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, AP reports. The region has long suffered from a vulnerable health care system due to years of ongoing conflict and an Egyptian blockade.
- Palestinian Health Ministry officials fear a “total collapse” of the system, saying hospitals will not be able to care for virus patients if the conflict intensifies.
Failures of de-escalation efforts so far
International efforts for de-escalation have stalled, CNN reports. Egypt, Qatar and the U.N. have continued to lead truce efforts. An Egyptian intelligence office told AP that Israel rejected an Egyptian ceasefire proposal that would have started at midnight on Thursday. Hamas had already accepted the proposal, the official said, according to AP.
Still, neither the Israeli nor Hamas military have indicated a willingness to back down as the conflict nears full-scale war.