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Deaths mount as Israel-Gaza violence worsens

Episode 210513 / 13 May 2021

The story

Violence in Gaza and Israel shows no sign of abating amid continued rocket fire and airstrikes, and civil unrest among Jewish and Israeli Arab mobs. Now Israel is moving troops towards the Gaza border to prepare for "all eventualities and an escalation".

Useful vocabulary

abating – becoming less severe or serious

civil unrest – fighting between people from the same country

mobs – large groups of angry people

escalating - increasing

clashes – fights/violence

revered – highly respected; honoured

eviction – forcing someone to leave the home they live in

(go) unheeded – not listened to

tension – angry feeling between groups of people

inflamed – caused (something) to get worse/increase

intercepted – caught before (something) reaches where it’s going to

ceasefire – agreement to stop or pause fighting for a time

Questions about the story...

1. Where is Israel moving its troops towards?

2. Why did Hamas launch rockets in the first place?

3. True or false? Tension was already rising in East Jerusalem before this week’s violence.

4. How many missiles fired from Gaza were stopped by Israel?

5. When will there be a ceasefire?

More about the story…

What has been happening?
Fighting between Israel and Gaza has been escalating since Monday and has prompted the UN to warn of a "full-scale war". At least 83 people in Gaza, including 14 children, and seven people in Israel have been killed since then. That death toll is expected to rise.

What has caused the violence?
The fighting between Israel and Hamas – the Palestinian militant group- was started by days of escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a holy hilltop compound in East Jerusalem.

The site is revered by both Muslims, who call it the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), and Jews, for whom it is known as the Temple Mount. Hamas demanded Israel remove police from there and the nearby mainly Arab district of Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face eviction by Jewish settlers. Hamas launched rockets when its ultimatum went unheeded.

Palestinian anger had already increased after weeks of rising tension in East Jerusalem, inflamed by a series of confrontations with police since the start of Ramadan in mid-April.

What‘s happening now?
A BBC reporter in Gaza said it had had the "longest and most difficult night since the 2014 war". Israel said it had now been targeted with 1,600 missiles.

Rockets continued to be fired from the Gaza Strip into Thursday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system or crashed into open land.

What have people been saying?
Mohammed Abu Rayya, a doctor living in Gaza told the BBC: "The situation is worse and worse... A lot of deaths of people, a lot of wounded - children, old women and old men. We cannot sleep at home, we are not feeling safe. Air strikes all over Gaza. There are not any places safe."

US President Joe Biden has said he hopes the violence will end "sooner than later" but a ceasefire does not appear immediate.

Find out more from the original BBC news report.

The answers

1. Where is Israel moving its troops towards?
Israel is moving troops towards the Gaza border.

2. Why did Hamas launch rockets in the first place?
They launched rockets when their demands that Israel remove police from a holy site and the nearby district of Sheikh Jarrah, were not met.

3. True or false? Tension was already rising in East Jerusalem before this week’s violence.
True. Palestinian anger had already increased after weeks of rising tension in East Jerusalem, inflamed by a series of confrontations with police since the start of Ramadan in mid-April.

4. How many missiles fired from Gaza were stopped by Israel?
According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), most of them. It said they were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system or crashed into open land.

5. When will there be a ceasefire?
It’s not yet known. A ceasefire does not appear immediate.

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