The Israeli military carried out strikes against Hamas positions in the besieged Gaza Strip as evening clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians continued in Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Maan News Agency said Israeli army tanks near the fortified fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel launched attacks on the enclave on Saturday. No injuries were reported.
The IDF said it hit underground infrastructure and rocket launchers in Gaza “in response to rockets fired at Israel overnight.”
He mentionned some rockets exploded before reaching Israel and others were intercepted by its air defense system.
Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rocket attacks, but a small military formation affiliated with the Left Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it fired some of the missiles.
In response to rockets fired at Israel overnight, we just hit Hamas terrorist targets in Gaza, including:
🎯 underground infrastructure
🎯 rocket launcher
Terror targets civilians.
We are aiming for terror.
– Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) April 24, 2021
The attacks come as tensions in occupied East Jerusalem soar. Israeli armed police fight with Palestinians for a second night Friday over the ban on rallies and anger fueled by videos of attacks.
Police on Thursday barred access to areas where Palestinians usually congregate in large numbers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, sparking clashes outside one of the entrances to the old walled city.
Tensions were also fueled by the arrival of far-right Israeli Jewish groups at the end of a march in which they harassed Palestinians and chanted “death to the Arabs.”
Early on Saturday Jordan strongly condemned “racist attacks on Palestinians”.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted: “As an occupying power under international law, Israel is responsible for stopping these attacks and the dangerous consequences of failing to do so.”
Hundreds of right-wing Israeli Jews roam the streets of Jerusalem tonight, chanting “Death to the Arabs” and looking for Palestinians to attack. Their actions echo the racist and violent rhetoric of Israeli government officials:pic.twitter.com/Ag9hHGAhNs
– Omar Baddar عمر بدّار (@OmarBaddar) April 22, 2021
On Friday, tens of thousands of Palestinians attended weekly prayers in the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, condemned “the attack by police and settlers on Palestinians in Jerusalem” in his Friday sermon, but called on worshipers to remain calm and not give in to the other camp an excuse to storm the compound.
They dispersed peacefully after the prayer and there were no immediate reports of unrest.
The sprawling hilltop complex has been the scene of clashes several times over the years and was the epicenter of the 2000 Palestinian Intifada (uprising).
Hamas staged protests across Gaza after Friday prayers, reiterating its support for the armed struggle.
“After a long series of protests and demonstrations, we have come to the conclusion that without weapons, we cannot liberate our land, protect our holy places, bring our people back to their land or maintain our dignity,” the senior said. Hamas official, Mahmoud Zahar.
Later Friday, following clashes, police said 44 people had been arrested in Jerusalem.
Dozens of Israeli soldiers attack a Palestinian in Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/H9KaDUQhYW
– GAZA TIME (@Timesofgaza) April 24, 2021
– Hardwood (@ Hardwood13222544) April 24, 2021
The Palestinian Red Crescent has reported at least 105 injured, of whom around 20 were transferred to hospital, while Israeli police said 20 policemen were injured.
The Israeli police used water cannons and stun grenades to disperse the Palestinians, who threw stones at them.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police have taken place every night since the start of Ramadan.
They were set on fire when police placed barricades outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, a popular gathering place after Ramadan’s fast ended during the day.
The Palestinian leadership wants East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Its fate has been one of the thorniest issues in the peace process, which ended more than 10 years ago.
The impoverished and densely populated Gaza Strip has been subject to a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007, after Hamas took control of the coastal enclave.
Hamas and Israel reached an agreement in late September last year to end hostilities, although attacks continue.
Hamas accused Israel of failing to fully respect the agreement. Israel, which considers Hamas a “terrorist” organization, avoids direct negotiations and has never publicly recognized the truce.
Israel has launched three offensives against the Gaza Strip since 2008, and there have been numerous outbreaks.