“Israel has begun firing artillery and tank shells into Gaza, and scores of families are fleeing their homes, Palestinian witnesses in the Gaza Strip said Thursday … Hamas sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel on Thursday as Israel pounded Gaza with more airstrikes and called up 9,000 more reservists. The relentless escalation of hostilities came even as Egyptian negotiators held in-person talks with the two sides, intensifying efforts at mediation.” The situation in the Middle East is going from bad to worse.

+ Like we see with Covid, politics can be deadly. There’s every reason to believe Netanyahu stoked the crisis to save his political life. And Hamas is built for war. This NYT subhead says it all: Analysts think it may be too early for de-escalation to succeed, as the sides first both need to forge a narrative of victory.

+ This might seem familiar in the Middle East, but this time there’s a new aspect. WaPo: “Chaos erupted in Israeli cities with mixed Jewish-Arab populations on Wednesday night, marking an escalation in the country’s worst communal violence in two decades. The Israeli media and local residents alike have warned about the threat of civil war in the country … In some cases, Arab Israelis protesting in support of Palestinians in Gaza and Jerusalem have squared off against right-wing Jewish Israelis and police, and these confrontations have sparked riots and looting. In other cases, groups of vigilante Jews have marched through Arab areas, targeting shops and individuals with violence. And in yet other cases, Arabs have attacked Jews passing through Arab neighborhoods.” (When everyone starts hating each other, politicians like BiBi thrive. Sound familiar?)

+ BBC: Here’s the latest from the BBC.