Rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system overnight as militants in Gaza launched the biggest attack since last year’s 11-day war.
Israel responded by launching airstrikes in the early hours of Thursday, prompting further launches of at least four rockets by militants in the besieged territory.
A rocket from Gaza fell on Wednesday evening without causing damage in a garden in the city of Sderot, in southern Israel, police said.
In retaliation, Israel said its jets had targeted a military post and a complex of tunnels “containing raw chemicals used in the manufacture of rocket engines”.
Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip, said it fired surface-to-air rockets at Israeli planes.
The images showed streaks of light crossing the sky above the Israeli city of Ashkelon, located next to the country’s border with Gaza – the Palestinian enclave on the eastern Mediterranean coast.
Explosions lit up the night sky as Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepted and destroyed incoming rockets.
Rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system overnight as militants in Gaza launched the biggest attack since last year’s 11-day war
Wisps of light dance in the night sky over Gaza as Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepts rockets fired by Palestinian militants from the enclave
Pictured: Flames and smoke rise during Israeli airstrikes in the central Gaza Strip on April 21, 2022
The exchanges come after nearly a month of deadly violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, centered on the compound of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israeli police said Thursday that dozens of rioters threw stones and Molotov cocktails from the mosque.
“A violent splinter group is preventing Muslim worshipers from entering the mosque and causing damage to the site,” police said.
Seven Palestinians, all residents of East Jerusalem annexed by Israel, were arrested on suspicion of taking part in “violent incidents” on Wednesday, he added.
Hours earlier, Israeli police blocked crowds of Jewish ultra-nationalist protesters from approaching the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, in a bid to prevent an escalation after four weeks of violence that has left at least 36 dead.
Last year, a similar ultra-nationalist march was planned in the Old City when Hamas launched a barrage of rockets towards Israel, triggering the 11-day war.
The fighting left hundreds dead, including 256 in the Gaza Strip and 13 in Israel – including 12 Israeli civilians and two Thai nationals. At least half of those killed in Gaza were also civilians, killed in airstrikes.
After the rocket launches, Israel said its jets targeted a military post and a complex of tunnels “containing crude chemicals used to manufacture rocket engines”.
A missile from Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming rockets and artillery shells, lights up the skies over the Gaza Strip on April 21, 2022.
An explosion is caused by Israeli airstrikes on a Hamas military base in the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on April 19, 2022
By early Wednesday evening, more than 1,000 ultra-nationalist protesters waving Israeli flags had gathered, some shouting ‘death to Arabs’, but police prevented them from reaching Damascus Gate and the Muslim quarter of the Old City .
Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, a controversial opposition politician, led the protest after being barred from the Damascus Gate area earlier in the day by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“I’m going to say it clearly, I’m not going to blink, I’m not going to go to bed,” Ben Gvir told AFP, as his supporters chanted “Bennett go home!”.
“I am not allowed to enter Damascus Gate,” the former lawyer said. “Based on what law?
Bennett said earlier that he blocked the rally for security reasons.
“I have no intention of allowing petty politics to endanger human lives,” he said.
“I will not allow a political provocation by Ben Gvir to endanger the IDF (Israeli army) soldiers and the Israeli police, and make their already difficult task even more difficult.”
Ben Gvir countered Thursday that “some Jews don’t surrender to Hamas.”
The exchanges come after nearly a month of deadly violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, centered on the compound of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. Pictured: Palestinians shoot fireworks at Israeli police, April 17
Israeli Border Police officers detain a protester during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians near Damascus Gate outside Jerusalem’s Old City during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, April 4, 2022
Pictured: The remains of the Shorouq building, flattened by an Israeli airstrike during the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City on April 19, 2022
Tensions are high as the Passover holiday coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Palestinians and Israeli Arabs carried out four deadly attacks in Israel in late March and early April that left 14 people dead, most of them civilians.
A total of 23 Palestinians have been killed since March 22, including assailants who targeted Israelis, according to an AFP tally.
On Tuesday, Israel carried out its first strike on Gaza in months, in response to the first rocket since January from the Palestinian enclave.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem”.
He added that he was in contact with the parties to urge them “to do everything possible to reduce tensions, avoid inflammatory actions and rhetoric”.
Bennett, himself a right-winger and a key figure in Israel’s settlement movement, leads an ideologically divided coalition government.
His coalition lost its majority in the Knesset, Israel’s 120-seat parliament, this month after a member quit in a dispute over the use of sourdough bread products in hospitals during the war. Easter.
Then on Sunday, the Raam party, from the country’s Arab-Israeli minority, suspended its support for the coalition against the violence of Al-Aqsa.
Right-wing lawmakers are under pressure to leave the Israeli government, which is seen by some on the right as too favorable to Palestinians and Israel’s Arab minority.