Israel intercepts rocket fired from Gaza as tensions soar

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Palestinian militants fired a rocket into southern Israel for the primary time in months on Monday, in a doubtlessly main escalation after clashes at a delicate holy website in Jerusalem and a wave of assaults and army raids elsewhere. 

Israel stated it intercepted the rocket, and there have been no quick stories of casualties or harm. Israel holds Gaza‘s militant Hamas rulers liable for all such projectiles and often launches airstrikes of their wake. It was the primary such rocket fireplace since New Year’s Eve.

Hours earlier, the chief of the Islamic Jihad militant group, which boasts an arsenal of rockets, had issued a short, cryptic warning, condemning Israeli “violations” in Jerusalem. 

Ziad al-Nakhala, who relies exterior the Palestinian territories, stated threats to tighten an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza imposed after Hamas took energy in 2007 “can’t silence us from what’s happening in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.”

Palestinians and Israeli police clashed over the weekend in and across the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, which has lengthy been an epicenter of Israeli-Palestinian violence. It is the third holiest website in Islam and the holiest for Jews, who discuss with it because the Temple Mount as a result of the mosque stands on a hilltop the place the Jewish temples had been positioned in antiquity.

Protests and clashes there final yr finally led to an 11-day Gaza battle.

Police stated they had been responding to Palestinian stone-throwing and that they had been dedicated to making sure that Jews, Christians and Muslims — whose main holidays are converging this yr — may rejoice them safely. Palestinians view the presence of police on the website as a provocation.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated Monday, forward of the rocket fireplace, that Israel has been the goal of a “Hamas-led incitement marketing campaign.”

The latest tensions come during the confluence of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the week-long Jewish holiday of Passover. Christians are also celebrating their holy week leading up to Easter, and tens of thousands of visitors have flocked to Jerusalem’s Old City — home to major holy sites for all three faiths — for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jordan and Egypt, which made peace with Israel decades ago and coordinate with it on security matters, have condemned its actions at the mosque. Jordan — which serves as custodian of the site — summoned Israel’s charge d’affaires on Monday in protest.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II discussed the violence with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, agreeing on “the need to stop all illegal and provocative Israeli measures” there, according to a statement. Jordan planned to convene a meeting of other Arab states on the issue.

Israel has been working to improve relations with Jordan over the past year and has recently normalized relations with other Arab states over their shared concerns about Iran. But the Jerusalem clashes, and a recent wave of violence, have brought renewed attention to the conflict with the Palestinians, which Israel has sought to sideline in recent years. 

An Arab social gathering that made historical past final yr by becoming a member of Israel’s governing coalition suspended its participation on Sunday — a largely symbolic act that nonetheless mirrored the sensitivity of the holy website, which is on the emotional coronary heart of the century-old battle.

Israel captured the West Bank, together with the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — which incorporates the Old City — within the 1967 Mideast battle. The Palestinians search these territories for a future impartial state.

The Palestinians have lengthy feared that Israel plans to take over or partition the mosque compound, and in latest weeks calls by Jewish extremists to sacrifice animals there have circulated extensively amongst Palestinians on social media, sparking calls to defend the mosque.

Israeli authorities say they don’t have any intention of fixing the established order, and police are implementing a prohibition on animal sacrifices. Israel says its safety forces had been pressured to enter the compound early Friday after Palestinians stockpiled stones and different objects, and hurled rocks within the route of an adjoining Jewish holy website.

The violence in Jerusalem has come within the wake of a sequence of Palestinian assaults inside Israel that killed 14 folks. Israel has launched near-daily arrest raids and different army operations within the occupied West Bank that it says are geared toward stopping extra.

The Israeli army stated Monday it arrested 11 Palestinians in operations throughout the occupied West Bank in a single day. In a raid within the village of Yamun, close to the town of Jenin, the military stated dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks and explosives at troops.

Soldiers “responded with live ammunition toward the suspects who hurled explosive devices,” the army stated. The Palestinian Health Ministry stated two males had been hospitalized after being critically wounded.

Two of the attackers got here from in and round Jenin, which has lengthy been a bastion of armed battle towards Israeli rule.

At least 25 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in latest weeks, based on an Associated Press rely. Many had carried out assaults or had been concerned in clashes, however an unarmed lady and a lawyer who seems to have been a bystander had been additionally amongst these killed.


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