Violence rocks Gaza, Israel and West Bank
Israeli planes renewed air strikes in Gaza early this morning and Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel as their battle entered a fifth night. Al Ayyam quotes residents in northern Gaza sayingIsraeli naval boats fired shells from the Mediterranean though none may have hit the Strip. Meanwhile, Haaretz reports Sirens sounding in two major southern Israeli cities, warning of incoming fire from Gaza. Israel launched day-long attacks yesterday to destroy what it said were several kilometres of tunnels, launch sites and weapons manufacturing warehouses used by the militants in an effort to halt the rocket attacks.
Diplomatic efforts stepped up
Politico says that ahead of a session of the UN Security Council tomorrow to discuss the situation, US and Arab diplomats sought an end to the violence. US envoy for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, Hady Amr, flew into Jerusalem as Egypt and Jordan lead regional efforts to secure a ceasefire.
Russia lists ‘unfriendly states’
Ria Novosti says Russia on Friday formally designated the United States and the Czech Republic as “unfriendly states”. The Russian Government released a list of nations that “have carried out unfriendly actions” against Russia, Russian nationals or Russian entities. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow remained ready for dialogue.
China lands on Mars
China has become the first nation after the US to land a spacecraft on Mars. Xinhua News Agencyquoted the China National Space Administration as saying the Tianwen-1 probe had collected a large amount of scientific data since entering Mars’ orbit on February 10 and the window for setting down on an icy area of the planet known as Utopia Planitia had been determined by “current flying conditions”.
WHO warns pandemic would be more deadly
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic was on track to become “much more deadly” than the first. Tribune de Geneve says DrTedros appealed to rich states not to vaccinate children but give the doses to COVAX, the global collaborative programme to accelerate the development, production and equal access for all countries to vaccines against COVID-19.
Greece ends lockdown measures
According to Kathimerini, Greece has launched its tourist season, lifting most remaining restrictions on movement and declaring “we are putting the lockdown behind us”, even if an average of 2,000 daily COVID cases were still being recorded. German tourists have begun flying in. From Monday, it will not be illegal for Britons to travel to “amber list” Greece, but they are advised not to.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday the Indian variant could pose “significant disruption” to lockdown easing on 21 June.