Hamas has pelted stones at Israel following days of violence at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem between Israeli police and Islamist protests that have left hundreds of Palestinians wounded.
The rocket fire came just after 6 a.m. for Hamas to allow Israel to withdraw its troops from mosques, Muslim and Jewish sanctuaries. Television footage shows smoke rising from the mountains near Jerusalem, farther away from Israel than any other rocket detonated in recent years.
Israeli forces responded by firing on a plane in the Gaza Strip, including one that appeared to be targeting a senior Hamas official. Israeli Defense spokesman Jonathan Conricus said the troops had a “green light” on their military targets until Hamas “received the message and learned.”
Health officials in Gaza say up to 20 people have been killed, including nine children, and 65 injured in a plane crash. Another air strike is expected.
One of the Hamas shots hit an Israeli house on the outskirts of Jerusalem, unharmed, and an Israeli soldier was slightly injured when his car was hit by a tank gun near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Hamas had crossed the “red line” with its most recent volleyball, now about 50 rockets, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, warning that the fighting could “continue for a while”.
“We will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our headquarters, our citizens and the military. Anyone who attacks us will pay, ”Netanyahu said on Monday night.
Israeli forces have called for meetings and schools to be banned as far as Israel is concerned, as they prepare more rockets from Hamas.
In the past three days, violence has escalated in East Jerusalem as hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli police after using stunts and horseback riding officers to protest demonstrations and blockade a mosque. The demonstrations coincided with the festivities of Ramadan.
The crisis is rampant in Israel, which has been criticized by Arab and Gulf states for police actions in the mosque and has spoken out from allies including the US and the EU over their efforts to evict more Palestinians from neighboring areas.
Israel wants it anger irritates arguments by changing the course of the annual pilgrimage to the right through East Jerusalem, and delay the expulsion of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah’s Arab region. During the daily festivals of Jerusalem Day, Israeli flag-bearers often march through the Muslim part of the Old City to commemorate the 1967 Jewish conquest of Jerusalem.
Hamas threw at least 12 stones against Israeli civilians last week, as images of police in mosques spread throughout the Arab world. Hamas issued a warning on Monday that Israel would withdraw its military base from Sheikh Jarrah’s mosque and territory.
Just after 6:00 pm, after the last hour, the sound of airplanes was heard in Jerusalem and the nearby town of Beit Shemesh. Channel 13 of Israel showed smoke rising from the mountains near Jerusalem. At least seven rockets were fired, and one was seized by Israeli Iron Dome security forces, the military said.
The area where the mosque is located, called the Temple Mount by the Jews, is the most holy place in Judaism and is the first building of the second temple destroyed by the Romans in AD70. Many Jews worship at the west wall, the remainder of the temple, and meet its instructions in prayer.
On Monday morning, violent Israeli police again stormed a mosque to disperse thousands of worshipers who were sleeping inside. More than 300 Palestinian civilians have been injured and at least 20 police are in need of medical treatment, say Palestinian and Israeli doctors. Seven Israelites were also injured.
The government intervened on Sunday in a dismissal case that had previously been rejected as a business dispute, with the attorney general asking for a delay in Monday’s Supreme Court ruling.
But tensions are still high – the Israeli army has called off a military game planned for the month to monitor the growing potential of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.