20 killed as Israel strikes Gaza in retaliation after Hamas rocket barrage

Israel launched lethal air strikes on Gaza Monday in response to a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas and different Palestinian militants, amid spiralling violence sparked by unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

At least 20 individuals have been killed, together with 9 kids and a senior Hamas commander, and 65 others wounded, Gaza authorities stated.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Hamas had crossed a “red line” by directing missiles in direction of Jerusalem and that the Jewish state would “respond with force”.

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“We will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers. Those who attack us will pay a heavy price,” stated Netanyahu, who held conferences with the heads of the military and the Shin Bet safety company.

Israel’s military stated 150 rockets had been launched from Gaza, dozens of which have been intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System, with no casualties reported.

“We have started, and I repeat started, to attack military targets in Gaza,” military spokesman Jonathan Conricus stated.

“We have made preparations for various scenarios, including high intensity ones… Hamas will get the message.”

The army stated it had focused “two rocket launchers, two military posts”, a tunnel and eight Hamas operatives in Gaza.

Hamas sources confirmed to AFP that one in all their commanders, Mohammed Fayyad, had been killed.

Tensions in Jerusalem have flared since Israeli riot police clashed with Palestinian worshippers on the final Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in town’s worst disturbances since 2017.

Also Read: US expresses ‘severe considerations’ about Jerusalem clashes, Palestinians’ evictions

Nightly unrest since then on the Al-Aqsa compound has left a whole lot of Palestinians wounded, drawing worldwide requires de-escalation and sharp rebukes from throughout the Muslim world.

Diplomatic sources advised AFP that Egypt and Qatar, who’ve mediated previous Israeli-Hamas conflicts, have been making an attempt to calm tensions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly condemned the rocket assaults by Hamas, saying they “need to stop immediately”.

“All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions, take practical steps to calm things down,” he stated.

– Sirens, evacuation –

Adding to the sense of chaos, an enormous hearth engulfed timber in the compound that homes the mosque, Islam’s third holiest web site, as a whole lot of Jewish Israelis watched from the Western Wall esplanade beneath.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, earlier Monday warned Israel to withdraw all its forces from the mosque compound and the east Jerusalem district of Sheikh Jarrah, the place looming evictions of Palestinian households have fuelled offended protests.

Sirens wailed throughout Jerusalem simply after the 1500 GMT deadline set by Hamas as individuals in Jerusalem, together with lawmakers in the Knesset legislature, fled to bunkers for the primary time since a 2014 Gaza battle.

A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing the Qassam Brigades stated the rocket assaults have been in response to Israeli actions in Sheikh Jarrah and across the Al-Aqsa mosque.

“This is a message that the enemy must understand well: if you respond we will respond, and if you escalate we will escalate.”

A home in Beit Nekofa, about 10 kilometres (six miles) west of central Jerusalem, was additionally broken by rocket hearth, AFP TV reported.

The Israeli military stated on Twitter that, separate to the rockets, “as a result of an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza, an Israeli civilian in a nearby vehicle was lightly injured” in the Gaza border space.

– ‘Escalating aggression’ –

Fears of additional chaos in the Old City had quickly eased when Israeli organisers of a march to have a good time the Jewish state’s 1967 seize of east Jerusalem cancelled the occasion.

But then got here the Hamas warning, adopted by the rockets, which additionally compelled the evacuation of the Western Wall and different websites.

Militants in Gaza have not too long ago additionally deployed incendiary balloons which have sparked dozens of fires in Israeli territory.

On Monday night, as throughout the earlier nights since Friday, Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli officers in riot gear who fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gasoline.

That got here after morning clashes which left the bottom suffering from rocks, stun grenade fragments and different particles as loud booms and offended screams echoed from the traditional stone partitions.

There have been dozens of newly wounded demonstrators. The Palestinian Red Crescent stated no less than 395 Palestinians have been wounded, together with greater than 200 who have been hospitalised, 5 of them in important situation.

Siraj, 24, was wheeled into surgical procedure on the massive Makassed Hospital after struggling a spleen damage from being hit by a rubber bullet.

“They shot everyone, young and old people,” he stated.

Makassed director common Adnan Farhoud stated most of Monday’s accidents have been to the pinnacle, chest, and higher and decrease limbs.

When “you mean to harm someone you shoot to the head”, he advised AFP.

The Israeli police reported 32 accidents in their ranks.

The violence since Friday has been fuelled by a long-running bid by Jewish settlers to evict a number of Palestinian households from their close by Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

A Supreme Court listening to on a Palestinian enchantment in the case initially set for Monday was pushed again by the justice ministry as a result of tensions.

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