Jerusalem: In response to a series of rockets fired by Hamas and other Palestinian militants, Israel launched a deadly airstrike on the Gaza Strip, and the turmoil in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem triggered escalating violence.
The Gaza authorities said at least 20 people were killed, including 9 children and a senior Hamas commander, and 65 others were injured.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Hamas had aimed missiles at Jerusalem and had crossed the “red line”, and the Jewish state would “respond with force.”
“We will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers. Those who attack us will pay a heavy price,” said Netanyahu, who held meetings with the heads of the army and the Shin Bet security agency.
Israel s army said 150 rockets had been launched from Gaza, dozens of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System, with no casualties reported.
“We have started, and I repeat started, to attack military targets in Gaza,” army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.
“We have made preparations for various scenarios, including high intensity ones… Hamas will get the message.”
The military said that its targets were “two rocket launchers, two military outposts”, a tunnel and eight Hamast workers in Gaza.
Hamas sources confirmed to AFP that one of their commanders, Mohammed Fayyad, was killed.
Since the Israeli riot police clashed with Palestinian believers on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, tensions in Jerusalem have increased, which is the worst riot in the city since 2017.
Since then, the turmoil that occurred in the Al-Aqsa compound at night has injured hundreds of Palestinians and has aroused the appeal of the international community to downgrade and severely reprimand the entire Muslim world.
Diplomatic sources told AFP that Egypt and Qatar, who have mediated past Israeli-Hamas conflicts, were attempting to calm tensions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas, saying they “need to stop immediately”.
“All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions, take practical steps to calm things down,” he said.