The Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system (L) intercepts rockets (R) fired by the Hamas movement towards southern Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip as seen in the sky above the Gaza Strip overnight on May 14, 2021. – Israel bombarded Gaza with artillery and air strikes on Friday, May 14, in response to a new barrage of rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave, but stopped short of a ground offensive in the conflict that has now claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives.
As the violence intensified, Israel said it was carrying out an attack “in the Gaza Strip” although it later clarified there were no boots on the ground. (Photo by ANAS BABA / AFP)
Israel has faced the highest ever rate of rocket attacks on its territory during its latest confrontation with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that controls Gaza, the army said Sunday.
Since Monday, armed groups in Gaza have fired about 3,000 rockets towards Israel, surpassing the pace during an escalation in 2019 and during the 2006 war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, said Major General Ori Gordin.
Gordin, commander of Israel’s home front, presented a graphic to reporters with data of rockets fired toward Israel in past years and now.
During an escalation in November 2019 between the army and the Islamic Jihad group, 570 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel over three days.
And in the 2006 war with the Iran-backed Hezbollah, a total of 4,500 rockets were fired at Israel over 19 days, according to the data Gordin shared with reporters.
Asked if the pace since Monday was the highest ever rate of rocket attacks on Israeli territory, Gordin said: “Not only do I agree, this is what I present.”
The week-long escalation was sparked by unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, and has seen the death toll in the densely-populated Gaza Strip rise to 181, and to 10 in Israel, according to authorities on either side.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis on Sunday said the loss of innocent lives in violence between Israel and Palestinians was “terrible and unacceptable”, warning that the latest conflict could get even worse.
“Numerous people have been injured, and many innocents have died. Among them there are also children, and this is terrible and unacceptable,” the 84-year-old pontiff said.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also urged world leaders on Sunday to use “maximum influence” to stop the spiralling conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the violence.
“The populations in Gaza and Israel are facing the most intense cycle of hostilities in years,” the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.
“Ahead of the United Nations Security Council meeting on Sunday, the ICRC calls on the concerned leaders to exert maximum influence to stop the hostilities between Gaza and Israel,” it said.