More than 20 Palestinians have been killed, Israel has been the target of hundreds of rockets and protests have escalated across the Middle East as escalating tensions in Jerusalem have turned into unrest that has spread well into the country. – beyond its ancient walls.
The violence continued overnight, with clashes prompting international calls for calm and fears that the situation could escalate into a larger conflict.
On Tuesday, the IDF called 5,000 active-duty reservists, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning in a speech the day before the “conflict could continue for some time.”
Like in other years, recent hostility has centered around the Old City of Jerusalem, which has some of the holiest sites in Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their capital.
As of Tuesday morning, Hamas, the militant group that controls the stranded Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, launched more than 200 rockets at Israel, including Jerusalem.
This set off sirens and explosions heard from the city, believed to be the first such incident targeting Jerusalem since 2014, according to the Associated Press.
In response to the rockets, the Israel Defense Forces shelled 130 “terrorist targets” in Gaza, including the home of the Hamas commander. The IDF posted photos of fighter jets loaded with missiles.
The Palestinian health ministry said 24 people were killed in Gaza, including nine children, and 95 people were injured. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the United Nations Security Council to intervene to stop “the Israeli aggression against our people”.
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Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called the Israeli strikes “indiscriminate and irresponsible” and said Israel was responsible for “the dangerous escalation” in Jerusalem, Reuters reported.
Hamas strikes against Israel also left people injured, including six injured in Ashkelon, a town less than 10 miles from the Gaza border, according to Israeli ambulance service Magen David Adom.
On Monday evening, the unrest spread to Lod, a town southeast of Tel Aviv, where Mayor Yair Revivo said “young Arabs” had vandalized public property, threw Molotov cocktails and lowered the Israeli flag to replace it with the Palestinian one. He said one person was shot dead, with Israeli newspaper Haaretz reporting that it was an Arab man killed by a Jewish resident.
Nighttime clashes punctuated Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims. The unrest has been fueled by plans to evict Palestinian families from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem whose land is claimed by Jewish settlers.
Tensions escalated on Friday and Monday as Israeli police knocked out grenades and rubber bullets at Palestinians in the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is Islam’s third holiest site and site. the most sacred of Judaism.
Israeli officials said it was in response to Palestinians throwing stones at the Western Wall, where thousands of Jews had gathered to pray. Netanyahu spokesman Ofir Gendelman tweeted that “extremist Palestinians planned well in advance to start riots.”
The violence came as some Israelis celebrated the anniversary of their country’s capture of the Old City and its eastern neighborhoods in the Six Day War of 1967.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States had “urged the Israelis to de-escalate, we urged the Palestinians to de-escalate” and he “condemned in the strongest possible terms , the rocket fire from Hamas, that is to say that for the last few minutes it has been raining on Israel. “
The executive branch of the European Union said in a statement that “rocket attacks from Gaza against civilian populations in Israel are totally unacceptable and are fueling an escalating momentum.” While German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said in a tweet that “rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are not justifiable under any circumstances”.
Alexander Smith reported from London, and Lawahez Jabari and Paul Goldman reported from Jerusalem. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.