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Lethal violence in Gaza and Israel mounts as Biden pushes for de-escalation

President Joe Biden takes a break while speaking in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, United States on Monday, May 10, 2021.

Chris Kleponis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Thursday called for a de-escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza as attacks intensify and more people are killed.

The president told reporters at the White House he expected additional talks with executives in the region.

Israeli ground forces bombed and sent troops and tanks to the Gaza border after Palestinian militants fired more rockets at Israel on Thursday.

According to Palestinian medics, at least 103 people, including 27 children, have been killed in Gaza in the past four days. Seven people were killed in Israel, including a soldier and some civilians, in air and rocket strikes between the Israeli military and the Hamas militant group that governs the Gaza Strip.

A picture shows the explosion after an Israeli strike against a building in Gaza City on May 14, 2021.

Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images

Israel said it is sending troops to the Gaza border before it could potentially enter the Hamas-ruled area after four days of ongoing cross-border conflict. The heightened military response is also due to violence among Arab and Jewish mobs in the streets of Israel this week, which resulted in dozens of arrests.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a televised address that the escalating conflict had embroiled Israel in two combat campaigns – in Gaza and in Israeli cities – and reiterated his promise to use the military to combat violence in the cities.

“I again urge the citizens of Israel not to take the law into their own hands. Anyone who does this will be severely punished,” said Netanyahu. “We will act with full force against enemies from outside and lawbreakers from within in order to restore calm in the state of Israel.”

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A ground invasion of Gaza has not yet been announced. Some world leaders and lawmakers have condemned the conflict and urged violence, which they claimed could escalate into an all-out war.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin pushed for “senseless civil war” amid urban unrest. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an “immediate de-escalation and cessation of hostilities” in the region.

“Too many innocent civilians have already died,” Guterres wrote in a tweet. “This conflict can only exacerbate radicalization and extremism across the region.”

The Palestinians assess the damage caused by Israeli air strikes on May 14, 2021 in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip.

Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images

Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee, has called for a ceasefire in the area as soon as possible to prevent further civilian deaths.

“Ground operations will not stop the missiles falling on Israel or solve the fundamental security challenges Israel is facing,” Murphy said in a statement Thursday. “Only a short-term ceasefire and a real path to a viable long-term future with two states can do this.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on Wednesday that the US is sending Hady Amr, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, to urge Israelis and Palestinians to de-escalate the violence.

The U.S. State Department on Thursday also raised its travel advice to Israel, citing armed conflict and civil unrest and urging people not to travel to Gaza because of Covid-19 and conflict.

– Reuters and Associated Press contributed to the coverage

Israeli artillery soldiers gather near the Israeli-Gaza border on the Israeli side on May 14, 2021.

Amir Cohen | Reuters

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