Israel hits Gaza after rocket attack as Jerusalem tensions escalate
The Gaza Strip has been rocked by Israeli airstrikes early Tuesday in response to a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave as tensions rise following a weekend of violence around a Jerusalem holy site.
Monday night heard warning sirens sounding in southern Israel after the rocket was fired from the enclave controlled by Hamas – it’s the first such incident in months.
The missile crashed into the sea off Tel Aviv.
“One rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome Air Defense System,” the Israeli military said in a statement.
Just hours later the Israeli air force claimed it had hit a Hamas weapons manufacturing site in retaliation.
The air raids on the Gaza Strip are said to have not caused any casualties, according to witnesses and sources in Gaza, and Hamas claims it used “anti-aircraft defence” to counter the attacks.
No faction in Gaza immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket – but it comes following a series of attacks in Israel and a weekend of tensions at a holy site in Jerusalem.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Israel and it’s not uncommon for them to respond with airstrikes.
The incident is the first of its kind since early January and follows a weekend of Israeli-Palestinian violence in and around Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound that wounded more than 170 people, mostly Palestinian demonstrators.
The UN Security Council is to hold a session on Tuesday to discuss the rise in violence – and likely hoping to avoid seeing a repeat of last year’s 11-day war that was triggered by similar violence in Jerusalem.
‘Al-Aqsa is ours and ours alone’
The escalation in violence coincides with the holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish festival of Passover.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is known to the Jewish as Temple Mount — the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam.
Palestinians have been angered by repeated visits to the site by Jewish worshippers, who are permitted to enter but may not pray there.
Hamas issued a warning on Sunday that “Al-Aqsa is ours and ours alone” and swore ro defend the right for Palestinians’ to pray there.
Israel- Palestine violence
The latest attacks came after a spike in violence including four deadly attacks since late March in the Jewish state by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs – claiming the lives of mostly civilians.
A total of 23 Palestinians have been killed in violence since March 22 – including assailants who targeted Israelis, according to an AFP tally.
A total of 23 Palestinians have meanwhile been killed in the violence since March 22, including assailants who targeted Israelis, according to an AFP tally.
Israel has added additional forces in the occupied West Bank and has been reinforcing its barrier in the territory.
Jordan has summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires “to deliver a message of protest over illegitimate and provocative Israeli violations at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque”, its foreign ministry said in a statement.
The country serves as custodian of holy places in east Jerusalem, including the Old City, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed – a move not recognised by most of the international community.
Israeli PM Naftali Bennett on Monday denounced what he called a “Hamas-led incitement campaign” and said Israel will do “everything” to make sure people of all religions could worship in Jerusalem and be safe.
“We expect everyone not to join the lies and certainly not to encourage violence against Jews,” he said.
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