As tensions rise following a weekend of violence surrounding a Jerusalem holy site, Israel launched its first fierce and brutal bombing on the Gaza Strip in months in response to a missile fired from the Palestinian territory.
Israel accused that a missile was fired from the Hamas-controlled enclave, warning sirens sounded in southern Israel Monday night, the first such event since early January.
The missile collided into the water off the coast of Tel Aviv.
“The Gaza Strip launched one missile into Israeli territory. The Iron Dome Air Defense System intercepted the rocket “In a statement, the Israeli military said.
In reply, the Israeli air force claimed to have attacked a Hamas weapons manufacturing facility.
According to witnesses and security sources in Gaza, Hamas claimed to have deployed its “anti-aircraft defence” to repel the air attacks, which resulted in no injuries.
The missile was launched following a spate of attacks in Israel and a weekend of tensions at a holy site in Jerusalem, but no faction in the congested enclave of 2.3 million residents quickly claimed credit.
Israel considers Hamas accountable for all missile firing from the country and frequently responds with airstrikes.
The event, which is the first of its sort since January, follows a weekend of Israeli-Palestinian violence in and around Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which left more than 170 people injured, the most of them were Palestinian protestors.
According to diplomatic sources, the United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday to consider the recent uptick in violence.
Last year, at the same time, similar unrest in Jerusalem prompted Hamas rocket firing into Israel, which developed into an 11-day conflict.
- ‘Provocative and illegitimate’ –
The surge in hostilities occurs around Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, and Passover, the Jewish festival.
Repeated visits to the site by Jewish worshipers, who are allowed to enter but not to pray, have enraged Palestinians.
Naftali Bennett’s administration has often said that Israeli security personnel have a “free hand” in dealing with protesters.
“Al-Aqsa is ours and ours alone,” Hamas said on Sunday, vowing to safeguard Palestinians’ right to pray there.
The firefights in Gaza and the Al-Aqsa battles come following a rise in violence in the Jewish state, which included four deadly assaults by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs since late March, killing 14 people, largely civilians.
According to an AFP tally, 23 Palestinians have been murdered in the unrest since March 22, including terrorists who attacked Israelis.
Hanan Khudur, an 18-year-old Palestinian woman, died Monday in the hamlet of Faquaa, near the flashpoint city of Jenin, after being shot by Israeli soldiers last week.
Israel has bolstered its barrier in the occupied West Bank by sending more troops and reinforcements.
The US is “very worried” about the tensions, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price, who said that top US officials have been in contact by phone with their colleagues from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Arab countries.
He stated, “We have asked all sides to maintain the historic status quo” at the Al-Aqsa compound and to avoid “provocative” actions.
Jordan summoned Israel’s charge d’affaires on Monday to “send a message of concern over illegal and provocative Israeli breaches at the hallowed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to a statement from the country’s foreign ministry.
Jordan is the guardian of sacred sites in east Jerusalem, including the Old City, which Israel captured in 1967 and then annexed in a decision that was widely condemned at the time.
Bennett blasted a “Hamas-led provocation campaign” on Monday, saying Israel was doing “everything” to ensure that members of all religions could worship securely in Jerusalem.
“We ask everyone not to participate in the falsehoods, and especially not to foment violence against Jews,” he stated, implying that he was referring to Jordan.
Bennett is also facing a political crisis at home, where his ideologically divided coalition lost its one-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament, barely a year after assembling a government.
Raam, the first Arab-Israeli party to join an Israeli government, announced on Sunday that it was “suspending” its membership due to the violence in Jerusalem.