Violent clashes in Jerusalem have escalated seriously on Monday (May 10). At least 20 people, including nine children, were killed by Israeli air strikes after groups of Palestinian militants fired missiles near Jerusalem, Gaza health officials said.
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The Israeli military said it launched airstrikes against armed groups, missile launchers and military posts in Gaza after Hamas fighters there overcame what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “Red line” by shooting into the Jerusalem area for the first time since the 2014 war.
Israel’s military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said at least six rockets fired from Gaza had been fired toward the outskirts of Jerusalem, where a house was hit. No casualties were reported.
“We have already started attacking Hamas military targets,” Mr. Conricus said in a press conference in front of reporters. “Hamas will pay a heavy price.”
Israeli missile launches and airstrikes continued late into the night, as the Palestinians reported massive explosions near Gaza City and across the coastal strip. Just before midnight local time, the Israeli military said Palestinian militants had fired about 150 missiles at Israel, of which dozens were intercepted by its missile defense systems.
At least 20 people were killed, including 9 children and a senior Hamas commander, while another 65 were injured, Gaza authorities said.
Conricus said the Israeli military was reviewing reports that children were killed.
“There have been many instances where missiles were fired by Gaza terrorists without hitting their target. This could be the same, ” Mr. Conricus said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said missile attacks from Gaza against Israel should be stopped “immediately”. He urged all parties to refrain from stress.
Monday started with early morning confrontations at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the heart of Jerusalem’s walled Old City, on what Jews call the Temple of the Mount and with Muslims Noble Sanctuary – the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Association said more than 300 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police when police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas in the building. Police said 21 officers were injured in the fighting.
Violence broke out as Israel celebrated “Jerusalem Day”, marking the capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
In an effort to ease tensions, police changed the course of the traditional Jerusalem Day march, in which thousands of young Jews waving Israeli flags would walk through the Old City near Damascus Gate, a hot spot. in recent weeks.
Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, has set a 6 p.m. deadline (15:00 GMT) when Israel must withdraw its troops from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah.
Even as the marchers turned toward the Jaffa Gate, sirens sounded warning the Israelis about the missiles from Gaza, forcing the marchers and other Israelis to flee to a refuge in Jerusalem , neighboring towns and in the Israeli communities near Gaza.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem its capital, including the eastern part it annexed after the 1967 war, a move not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem for the capital of the state they seek in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Tensions have risen for weeks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters cause international concern that events might get out of control.
Hamas and a smaller group of Muslim jihad fighters have claimed responsibility for the missile firing on Jerusalem.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, said it was on track “A missile strike on the enemy in Jerusalem in response to the crime and invasion against the holy city and against our people in Sheikh Jarrah and the mosque of Al-Aqsa.”
In response, Mr. Netanyahu said: “Terrorist organizations crossed the red line on Jerusalem Day and attacked us on the outskirts of Jerusalem.”
He added: “Israel will respond very strongly. We will not tolerate attacks on our territories, capitals, citizens and soldiers. Whoever hits us will pay a heavy price ”.
After learning of the Gaza deaths, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to cancel the Eid El-Fitr celebrations – marking the end of Ramadan and confining them to religious ceremonies only.
The report said that he also decided to lower the flag by half a column “To mourn the souls of our people who were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.”
International efforts to prevent violence have begun. A Palestinian official told Reuters that Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, which had previously arranged truce between Israel and Hamas, contacted the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh.
In the US, lawmakers in both Republicans and Democrats have criticized Hamas for launching a missile strike on Israel on May 10 as the city of Jerusalem is celebrating “Jerusalem Day”.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said the “deplorable missile attack” occurred “after days of inciting anti-Semitism and violence by Palestinian leaders and the Iranian regime, including Supreme Leader Iran. Initiated by Ali Khamenei.
“In many cases, politicians and officials in Washington DC, including within the Biden administration and the State Department, have been morally and diplomatically ambiguous between our ally Israel and Palestinian terrorists, and many times they mistakenly blamed Israel, with no justification, “ Mr. Cruz continued.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy also tweeted that Israel “Has every right to defend itself against a series of missiles from Hamas.” Mr. McCarthy added: “The United States is on our side with our ally Israel and the Jews.”
Le Xuan (t / h)