Over 87 people have been killed as violence persists between Israel and Palestinians, the Gaza-based Palestinian Health Ministry reported on Thursday (May 13). The fatalities include 18 children and eight women, and at least 530 people have been injured, the ministry added.
Violence has continued to escalate in the area since Sunday (May 9). According to CNN, Palestinian militants have fired more than 1,000 rockets into Israel, and Israel has responded by launching hundreds of devastating airstrikes. NBC News reports that this is the most violent exchange of fire that the area has seen since the 2014 war in Gaza.
The United Nations warned on Tuesday (May 11) that if the violence continues, it could lead to war.
“Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war,” Tor Wennesland, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, tweeted.
Wennesland added that the U.N. is currently “working with all sides to restore calm.”
Jewish and Arab Israelis have reportedly been fighting for several days. In Lod, Israel; thousands of Arabs attended a funeral for a man allegedly killed by a Jewish gunman on Monday (May 10). In the neighboring city of Ramla, demonstrations turned violent and a restaurant and hotel owned by a Jewish person was set ablaze, the Associated Press reported. By Wednesday (May 12), police said they arrested over 150 people for “disturbances and riots” and several videos circulated on social media of protesters clashing with officers as well.
The fighting began earlier this week after Israeli police used stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets against Palestinians who were worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israeli officials said the force was a response to rocks being thrown toward the Western Wall, where thousands of Jewish people were praying. A spokesperson for the mosque said the violence began when police tried to evacuate the compound to allow Israelis in.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday that “Israel has the right to defend itself” and “the Palestinian people also have the right to safety and security, just as Israelis do.”
He added that the United States is currently working “to urge calm, de-escalation and restraint on both sides.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also received a letter from President Joe Biden on Tuesday about the conflict, according to the Palestinian news outlet WAFA.
“Israeli security forces must exercise maximum restraint and calibrate their use of force,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement. “The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli population centers is unacceptable.”