At least nine people have died, including three children, and several were injured on Monday in Beit Hanun, north of the Gaza Strip, in a bombardment by Israeli aviation in retaliation for the firing of rockets into Jerusalem by of the armed wing of Hamas, as reported by the Al Qasa television channel, citing the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The Ezzdin al Qassam brigades, affiliated with the Islamist Hamas movement, which rules Gaza de facto, fired at least seven projectiles in the direction of central Israel. In Jerusalem, the bombing alarm sirens went off shortly after 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. PST).
The Israeli Army said in a statement that it had intercepted one of the rockets with the Iron Dome anti-missile defense shield, which caused explosions to be heard around Jerusalem for the first time since 2014, during the third war waged by Israel in Gaza. The seat of the Knesset (Parliament) had to be evacuated. Hamas had warned in a statement two hours before that if the security forces did not withdraw from the Al Aqsa mosque it would act “in retaliation for the crimes and aggression in the Holy City and the brutality against the Palestinian people.”
Days of retaliation
A military spokesman assured in a telematic conference with the international press that a major offensive has been launched against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip. A commander of the Islamist militias was one of the selected targets, according to Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus. At least two other militants also lost their lives in the same operation, although the spokesman did not specify whether it coincided with the Beit Hanun attack in which the three Palestinian minors were killed. “The offensive has only just begun,” warned Conricus, who estimated that retaliatory attacks can last for “many hours, even days.”
The Army interrupted a large-scale maneuver to concentrate troops and war material on the border with the Palestinian enclave, according to an order given by the Chief of the General Staff, General Aviv Kochavi “to focus attention on the scene of an escalation.”
Dozens of rockets were fired by Hamas militias into the Israeli border area, where red alerts for imminent attack occurred at night, with no reports of personal injury.
The escalation of violence during the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem registered the day with the greatest tension on Monday. At least 305 Palestinians have been injured, of whom 228 have had to be hospitalized, according to the Red Crescent, in clashes with the Israeli police during morning prayer at the Al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holy place.
Tens of thousands of Israeli nationalists and settlers marched hours later with the Star of David flag through Jerusalem’s Old City. The provocative tour of the Muslim quarter from the iconic Damascus Gate, where tension soars every year, was banned by the police. The nationalist parade was finally diverted towards the Jaffa Gate, through the Christian and Armenian neighborhoods, in the direction of the Wailing Wall, to avoid passing through the most conflictive areas. The authorities finally decided to cancel the march at around 6.30 pm after the anti-missile security alerts were activated in Jerusalem.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.