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Rockets are fired from Gaza and intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system. Photo: Fatima Shbair/Getty Images

Tel Aviv — With U.S. envoy Hady Amr set to arrive in Israel on Friday for de-escalation talks with Israeli, Palestinian and UN officials, Israeli officials are concerned the U.S. intervention will lead to increased pressure to stop their military operation.

Driving the news: Fighting continued overnight, with the Israeli military massing forces along the frontier with the Gaza Strip and briefing reporters about ground forces entering the fight. Anticipating a ground invasion, Hamas sent its elite forces to their defensive tunnels. The Israeli forces instead began to bomb those tunnels and did not cross into Gaza, Israeli officials say.

  • It's unclear how many Hamas fighters were killed in the bombardment.
  • The air war between Israel and Hamas continued, with Hamas firing 200 rockets toward Israel overnight and the Israeli air force striking in Gaza.
  • At least 120 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, including 30 women and children, Gaza health officials said on Friday morning. Seven Israelis have been killed, including one soldier and one child.
Rockets are fired toward Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, as Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system mobilizes to intercept them. Photo: Anas Baba/AFP via Getty Images

What's next: It's unclear if Amr, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other senior Israelis.

  • The Israeli government had hinted to the U.S. that it might be better to hold the visit at a later stage, U.S. and Israeli officials say. Israel has said it's not yet ready to seek a ceasefire.
  • Ahead of Amr’s visit, Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — the first call between Abbas and a cabinet-level official since Biden assumed office.

The UN Security Council is expected to meet on Sunday for an open meeting on the situation in Gaza.

  • Behind the scenes: China, Norway and Tunisia had been pushing for the meeting to take place on Friday but the U.S. blocked those efforts, Israeli and U.S. officials say.
  • Israel has asked the Biden administration to block any measures at the UN since the fighting began on Monday, and the U.S. has blocked at least two attempts by other members of the council to publish a statement on the situation. Israeli officials say it became impossible for the U.S. to continue to prevent a meeting.
  • Blinken said on Thursday that holding the meeting later “will give some time for the diplomacy to have some effect and to see if, indeed, we get a real de-escalation and can then pursue this at the United Nations in that context."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated May 12, 2021 - World

Gaza crisis: Casualties pile up with no signs of ceasefire from Israel, Hamas

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip leave their neighborhood on Wednesday following an explosion. Photo: li Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is dispatching a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts.

The latest: The Israeli air force attacked a meeting of senior Hamas military leaders on Wednesday in Gaza and reported it had killed the Gaza City Brigade commander and the heads of Hamas’ cyber arm and weapons research and development department, along with at least three other senior officials.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated May 13, 2021 - World

Israeli ground troops join the fight near Gaza, raising threat of war

Israeli troops prepare to fire shells toward the Gaza Strip. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli ground troops have joined the fight near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday night.

Driving the news: While tanks and artillery were deployed for the first time on Thursday, the IDF says no ground troops have crossed into Gaza. Israel has called up 9,000 reservists and massed at least three brigades on the frontier with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Updated May 14, 2021 - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.