The Israeli army announced in the early hours of today that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continued to launch rockets overnight at the southern part of the country. “Since 18:00 (editor’s note: Monday yesterday), terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have been launching rockets at Israeli civilians. It’s nonstop. The time now is 04:00 pm. Rockets continued to fall for 10 hours,” the Israeli staff said via Twitter earlier today.
Just before midnight, the Israeli army reported 150 rocket attacks. Dozens of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defence system, they said.
The Israeli retaliation was extremely deadly. At least 20 Palestinians, including nine children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The Jerusalem Post reported that eight Hamas members were dead.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have plummeted in recent days. Over the weekend, hundreds of people —at least 610, according to a representative of the Palestine Red Crescent cited by the Al Quds newspaper— were injured in incidents in Jerusalem, a site considered sacred by faithful of three religions, such as the Temple Mount, as Jews call it, or Noble Sanctuary, as Muslims call it.
According to the Jerusalem Post, a Hamas spokesperson threatened around midnight that the organization’s armed wing would launch large-scale attacks if Israeli police forces did not leave the sanctuary within two hours.
After the ultimatum deadline expired, a Hamas spokesperson said the plan was cancelled because Israel backed down. However, so far there has been no confirmation that forces, police or others, have withdrawn from this area of Jerusalem.
According to a Palestinian radio network, Israeli airstrikes continued overnight in several cities in the Gaza Strip.
The cities of Deir al-Balah, Khan Yunis and Jabalya have been hit repeatedly.
United Nations convened an extraordinary meeting to discuss violence in Jerusalem
The United Nations Security Council convened on Monday to discuss the violence in Jerusalem, but made no announcement as the United States ruled that a “public message would not be appropriate at this stage,” diplomatic sources reported.
EU: All leaders have a responsibility to take action against extremists. The status quo of the holy places must be fully respected
The “escalation of violence” in the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem “must stop immediately,” said High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. “Rocket launches from the Gaza Strip against the civilian population in Israel are completely unacceptable and fuel the escalation,” the spokesman added in a press release.
The EU called on both sides to seek de-escalation. “The escalation of violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as in Gaza and the surrounding area, must be stopped immediately.” “All leaders have a responsibility to take action against extremists. The status quo of the holy places must be fully respected,” it said.
“We reiterate our call on all parties to work for de-escalation. “New casualties among civilians must be avoided as a matter of priority.”
USA strongly condemned “Hamas rocket attacks” on Israel
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said today that rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel should stop “immediately” and urged all sides to take steps to “de-escalate tensions.”
“I’m deeply concerned about the rocket attacks,” Blinken said in a brief statement ahead of his meeting with Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi at the State Department. On his part, Safadi said the focus was on ending the escalation.
The United States, through its spokesperson, has strongly condemned “Hamas rocket attacks” on Israel, denouncing the “unacceptable escalation” and calling on all sides to “ease tensions.”
“We recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself, to defend its people and its territory,” said spokesperson Ned Price, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to respond “vigorously.”