Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli strikes in Gaza enter second day
Palestinians fired uninterrupted rocket barrages at Israel, as its military shelled Gaza with airstrikes until the early hours of Tuesday, in a dramatic escalation of clashes in Jerusalem.
Explosions rocked buildings across Gaza, and rocket sirens sent Israelis to many southern cities rushing for cover overnight. Two Palestinians were killed and more than 100 injured in airstrikes, Palestinian officials said.
Six Israelis were injured by a rocket, medics said.
Nine children were among 20 dead in Gaza on Monday and dozens of rockets were launched at Israel, many of which were intercepted by missile defenses.
The events were sparked by activists from Gaza who fired at the Jerusalem area for the first time since a 2014 war, crossing what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “red line”.
The upsurge in violence came as Israel celebrated “Jerusalem Day”, marking its capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The escalation began with clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the heart of the old walled city on the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary – the most sensitive site of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said more than 300 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police, who fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas into the compound. Police said 21 policemen were injured in the skirmishes.
Although the problem subsided after a few hours, there were other focal points of tension, such as the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, just north of the Old City, where several Palestinian families are likely to be. evicted from homes claimed by Jewish settlers in pending legal action.
Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls Gaza, has set an evening deadline for Israel to withdraw police from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah. When it expired, sirens blared in Jerusalem and rockets hit the outskirts of the city.
Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, including the eastern part annexed after the 1967 war in a movement that has not achieved international recognition.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a state they seek in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Hamas and the small militant Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks in Jerusalem.
The IDF said it hit targets including militants, attack tunnels and the home of a Hamas battalion commander.
Of the 20 Palestinians killed on Monday, seven, including three children, were family members who died in an explosion in the town of Beit Hanoun, but it was not known whether this was caused by an Israeli strike or a Palestinian rocket that had failed. .
An Israeli army spokesman said about a third of the Palestinian rockets fired had failed and caused damage and loss inside Gaza.
International efforts to stem the violence appear to have already taken place. A Palestinian official told Reuters that Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, which negotiated truces between Israel and Hamas in the past, were in contact with group leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Tension had been mounting for weeks during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, amid clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters, which sparked international concern that events could get out of hand.
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.