JERUSALEM – Gaza militants fired multiple rockets at Israel overnight and early Thursday, and the Israeli Air Force said it retaliated by hitting two military sites in Gaza amid intense fighting. the most between the two sides since ended the 11-day war last May.
No deaths have been reported for either side, but Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, said several Israelis were being treated for shock and trauma while running to shelters. The military said one of the rockets landed in southern Israel, one landed in Gaza and the other four were intercepted by Israeli air defenses.
In response, the Israeli military said its jets hit a militia outpost involved in missile construction and then hit a Palestinian air defense facility. Video posted on social media by Palestinians shows several aerial missile interceptions in Gaza and several explosions on the ground.
The exchange follows a sharp increase in violence across Israel and the occupied territories over the past month, starting with the deadliest wave of Arab attacks in Israel for more than half a decade. The attacks killed 14 people and an Israeli persecution in the occupied West Bank, where at least 15 Palestinians were killed.
Tensions escalated further after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian stone-throwers at the Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and a holy site for both Jews and Muslims. Those confrontations drew rare public criticism from the new Arab allies of Israel, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
Clashes at the Jerusalem mosque complex flared up again early Thursday as police forced Palestinians out of parts of the site to ensure access for tourists and worshipers Jews, including hardline Jewish activists, who hope to one day rebuild an ancient Jewish temple that once stood on the site of the mosque complex. Kan reported that Israeli police fired rubber bullets and tear gas, and some Palestinians set off fireworks from inside a large mosque building at the site.
But both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, have said in recent days both want to avoid another minor war like last year. Currently, hostilities have followed a familiar routine that allows both sides to save face without forcing the other to escalate.
By firing rockets without killing Israeli civilians, the militants were able to express their anger at the events in Jerusalem without triggering a more Israeli backlash. By retaliating with nonlethal air strikes, Israel has demonstrated to both Israelis and Palestinians that it will not allow any aggression to go unanswered – but avoid pushing the militants in. wall foot.
On Wednesday, Israel blocked far-right Jews from marching through Muslim enclaves in Jerusalem’s Old City – which could easily trigger more violence – and banned a far-right Jewish lawmaker from setting up a temporary office next to the Old City entrance used by tens of thousands of Palestinians to get to the Aqsa Mosque.
Israeli police say they have arrested three Jewish tourists who visited the site for not complying with police instructions.
A Hamas official, Fawzi Barhoum, said early Thursday that the group was seeking to put pressure on Israel over the situation in Jerusalem but was “not going to war”.
In Gaza, officials are still repairing infrastructure damaged in the fighting in May. Warriors are still replenishing their arsenal and defenses. And analysts say they believe Hamas is wary of action that could lead Israel to cut the number of work permits Israel grants to residents of Gaza, an important source of income for Palestinians.
Tensions are likely to ease in the coming days, when Israel will adopt standard practice of closing Aqsa to Jews and tourists for the last 10 days of the fasting month of Ramadan.
But the overnight exchange showed how quickly the situation can spiral out of control, especially as videos of police intervention in mosques have flooded Arab social media, sparking outrage. profound offense against the Muslims, who are currently observing the month of Ramadan. Last year’s war in Gaza was partially started by similar scenes.
For Israelis, repeated police raids on the mosque compound are a responsible law enforcement action on Israeli territory. The Israeli government says it was forced to intervene in the mosque to prevent disturbances started by Palestinian rioters, who have put both Muslims and Jews at risk. while ensuring free access for all, including tourists.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “Israel is doing everything so that all peoples can safely celebrate the holiday – Jews, Muslims and Christians,” said Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said this week.
Israel captured the complex in 1967, along with the rest of East Jerusalem, and now considers it an integral part of the capital. But the United Nations Security Council regularly argues that it has occupied territory.
For Palestinians, the Israeli police presence in the area is an undesirable result of the Israeli occupation and confrontations with police on the compound, whoever initiated it, are seen as lawful act of protest against an occupying power.
They fear that the recent police facilitation of Jewish prayer at the site, against decades of conventionis the latest attempt to undermine Muslim access and surveillance to one of Islam’s holiest sites.
Israel’s interventions have also caused outrage across the Arab world and led to criticism from three Arab countries that signed a diplomatic agreement with Israel in 2020.
Next week a landmark diplomatic conference On Israeli soil, joined by ministers from those countries, the reactions show how the Palestinian conflict still affects Israel’s relations with the Arab world, even as decades later. Israel’s diplomatic isolation in the Middle East is fading.
Clashes have also caused an Islamic party in Israel’s ruling coalition suspend its membershipdeepening a government crisis that could lead to early elections.
Report contributed by Raja Abdulrahim from Jerusalem, Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City, and Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel.