UPDATE | Israel boosts troop numbers at Gaza border after Hamas targets country's airport

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Fire billows from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, on 13 May.
Fire billows from Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, on 13 May.
Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Violence is continuing between Hamas and Israel.
  • Israel has deployed additional troops to Gaza's border as the conflict rages on.
  • Hamas today has fired rockets at an Israeli airport.

Israel deployed additional troops to Gaza's border Thursday as the military conflict with Palestinian Islamists raged on, while inside Israel security forces scrambled to contain deadly riots between Jews and Arabs.

Army tanks shelled the Palestinian enclave and AFP reporters saw troops assembling at the security barrier. But the armed forces maintained a ground offensive was not the primary focus of the three-day-old operation against Palestinian militants.

"We are prepared, and continue to prepare for various scenarios," army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told AFP, describing a ground offensive as "one scenario".

With the Gaza conflict showing no signs of easing, Israel has been rocked by an unprecedented wave of mob violence, in which both Arabs and Jews have been savagely beaten and police stations attacked.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz ordered a "massive reinforcement" to suppress the internal unrest.

Despite global alarm and diplomatic efforts to de-escalate Gaza hostilities, which US President Joe Biden said he hoped would end "sooner than later", hundreds of rockets again tore through the skies overnight and Thursday.

Palestinian Muslim men perform the morning Eid Al-
Palestinian Muslim men perform the morning Eid Al-Fitr prayer outdoors amid the destruction on the first day of the Muslim holida.

The fourth day of heavy bombardments coincided with the start of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, and saw the faithful pray at mosques and amid the rubble of Gaza's collapsed buildings.

Israel's air force launched multiple air strikes, targeting locations linked to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

In Gaza, 83 people were reported killed since Monday -- including 17 children -- and more than 480 people wounded as heavy bombardment has rocked the crowded coastal enclave and brought down entire tower blocks.

Inside Israel, seven people have been killed since Monday, including one six-year-old, after a rocket struck a family home.

The Israeli military said it had hit Gaza targets more than 600 times, while Hamas had fired over 1,600 rockets towards Israel.

Earlier on Thursday, Hamas said it fired a large rocket at Israel's Ramon airport near Eilat, where incoming passenger flights were diverted after waves of rocket launches towards the main airport near Tel Aviv.

Exterior view. Ramon Airport, Eilat, Israel. Archi
Exterior view. Ramon Airport, Eilat, Israel. Architect: Mann Shinar Architects, 2019.

A spokesperson for Hamas' armed wing announced the launch of the 250kg rocket and demanded that "all international airlines immediately halt their flights to any airports" in the Jewish state.

READ | Israel strike kills 16 Hamas figures, including senior staff

Hamas has fired over 1 600 rockets towards Israel since Monday, with the Israel military saying it struck Gaza targets over 600 times.

Earlier Thursday, Israel's civil aviation authority said it had diverted all incoming passenger flights headed for Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport to Ramon airport, as air raid warnings once more went off across Israel.

International carriers were meanwhile cancelling flights to Israel.

Spokespeople for United Airlines and American Airlines told AFP their flights from the US to Israel had been cancelled "through 15 May".

In Gaza, 83 people were reported killed since Monday, with seven killed on the Israeli side.

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