Israel escalated its attacks on Gaza for a 5th day but stopped short of a ground invasion. The death toll hit 127.

A row of IDF soldiers and an artillery unit near Israel's border with Gaza.
Israeli soldiers of an artillery unit gather near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, on its Israeli side, May 14, 2021. Amir Cohen/Reuters
  • The conflict between Israel and Gaza entered a 5th day, and the death toll climbed to 127.
  • The IDF bombarded Gaza early Friday but did not launch a ground invasion.
  • Gaza returned fire with more rockets, while riots continue in a mixed Israeli city.
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Conflict between Israel and Gaza intensified into Friday, as Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) forces stood on the brink of a ground invasion on the fifth day of armed conflict.

119 Palestinians and eight Israelis had been reported dead as of early Friday afternoon local time, according to the BBC.

Israel fired into Gaza Friday, including an intense, 40-minute bombardment from outside the city using tanks and artillery, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed Israeli official. The strikes also featured aerial attacks from Israeli jets.

In return, a volley of rockets from Gaza streaked into Israel.

A man in Ashkelon, Israel, looks at the ground near a wall that has a hole blasted in it by a rocket
An Israeli man by a residential building after a rocket launched overnight from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, Israel May 14, 2021. Amir Cohen/Reuters

IDF spokesperson Lt Jonathan Conricus told The Washington Post that the Israeli offensive was aimed at a network of tunnels used by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza.

He said it had “not been feasible” to try to clear the area of civilians first. He said Israel’s munitions were “precision-guided,” The Post reported.

The force of the attack was so intense that the screams of those caught in onslaught could be heard from miles away, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Late Thursday local time, the IDF tweeted that a ground invasion had begun, but two hours later clarified that no troops had actually entered Gaza.

By the early morning, Israeli troops were massed along the border, and the nation readied another 9,000 reservists, according to the AP. Most adults in Israel are IDF reservists, part of its compulsory military service.

Gaza city building
A satellite view of buildings destroyed after airstrikes in Gaza City, taken on May 12, 2021. Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies

Following the Israeli air strikes, rocket launches from Gaza’s militant ruling body Hamas continued, Reuters reported.

The number of rockets had been launched towards southern Israel has reached around 1,800, according to The New York Times.

Israel iron dome gaza rockets
Israel’s Iron Dome interceptors seen on the left as rockets are launched from Beit Lahia, northern Gaza, on May 14, 2021. Anas Baba/AFP via Getty Images

As of Thursday, around 90% of them had been intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, which has protected Israel from most of the effect of the strikes.

Satellite imagery from Wednesday shows, from above, the impact of rockets on Israel and air strikes in Gaza.

Amnesty International said Thursday that the country’s leveling of apartment buildings, which the IDF said housed Hamas offices and weapons, could amount to a war crime.

A Palestinian boy drags another boy on a cart in the street, with a ruined building in the background.
A Palestinian boy pulls a cart carrying his brother and their belongings as they flee their home during Israeli air and artillery strikes, near a tower building destroyed in earlier strikes in Gaza City May 14, 2021. Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Palestinian families at the northern and eastern borders of Gaza packed up and flee to escape the bombardment, the AP reported.

Riots also continued between Arab and Jewish groups in the Israeli city of Lod, according to the AP.

Lod, which has a population of around 30% Arab Israelis, has become a flashpoint for what its Mayor Yair Revivo earlier called a mounting “civil war,” The Guardian reported.