The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said militant groups in the Gaza Strip fired six rockets in Jerusalem shortly after 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. CET). One of the missiles caused some damage to a house on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, a second was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system and four landed in the open, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.
As night fell, the IDF responded with a series of air strikes in Gaza.
“After terrorists in Gaza fired rockets at central and southern Israel in the past few hours, we just met three Hamas terrorists in Gaza,” the IDF said in a statement. The army later said they had also attacked a tunnel and rocket launchers and said more locations would hit overnight.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said twenty people were killed, including nine children, although it was not immediately clear how many had died as a result of Israeli air strikes.
A Hamas statement said: “We salute the Palestinian martyrs who were killed in the Israeli air strikes in Gaza on Monday evening.”
By 11 p.m. local time (4 a.m. CET), the IDF announced that around 150 rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, dozens of which had been intercepted by the Iron Dome.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, assumed responsibility for the first rocket fire on Jerusalem, which came just hours after demands that the Israeli police withdraw from the Al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in clashes with police The mosque is considered one of the holiest sites in the city.
A new escalation of violence
The violence on Monday was a dire new turn. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the rocket fire as “crossing borders” and vowed to “react with great force”.
“We are fighting on several fronts: in Jerusalem, Gaza and elsewhere in the country. Tonight, on Jerusalem day, the terrorist organizations in Gaza crossed a red line and attacked us with rockets on the outskirts of Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at a ceremony on the Munitions hill for Jerusalem Day.
Netanyahu also said that while Israel does not intend to escalate hostilities, “the current conflict may continue for some time”.
The violence on Monday in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque was the worst in the city in recent weeks. Early morning videos showed Israeli police firing stun grenades inside the mosque. Palestinians were filmed throwing stones. After a relative pause that lasted much of the day, clashes broke out late in the evening when Israeli police re-entered the mosque after praying at night.
A medic, Ramzi Halaq, who was in the mosque when the police stepped in a second time, told CNN: “The police targeted us directly as paramedics … and prevented us from doing our duties and doing them Take out injured person. “
By midnight, the Palestinian Red Crescent announced that 520 people had been injured during the day and 333 people needed hospital treatment.
Adding to the tension on Monday, a car crashed into two pedestrians near the entrance to the Lion Gate to the Old City after being pelted with stones. This is evident from a video of the incident.
The religious Israeli car was attacked by young Palestinians as it tried to change direction before accelerating forward and stepping onto the curb, hurling two people backwards.
Police said the driver lost control of the vehicle and that its occupants were slightly injured. The condition of the two people affected is not yet known.
Sheikh Jarrah: A neighborhood in the center of the unrest
A settler organization called Nahalat Shimon used a 1970 law to argue that the land was owned by Jewish families prior to 1948. Therefore, the current Palestinian landowners should be evicted and their property turned over to Israeli Jews.
Palestinians say restitution laws in Israel are unfair because they have no legal means of recovering property that they lost to Jewish families in what would later become the State of Israel in the late 1940s.
The situation in Sheikh Jarrah has attracted worldwide attention and the United States reiterated its concern on Monday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the US had “serious concerns” about the violence in Israel before adding that President Biden continued to monitor the situation.
“This is something that our national security team is obviously closely monitoring throughout the government. Surely the president is up to date and is monitoring it closely,” Psaki told reporters at a White House briefing.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had a call on Sunday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat regarding the situation in Jerusalem.
During the phone conversation, Sullivan highlighted recent engagements by senior US officials with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials as well as key regional stakeholders to urge steps to de-escalate tensions, according to an ad provided by the White House.
Sullivan reiterated that the United States has serious concerns about the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, the ad said.
“They agreed that launching rocket attacks and fire balloons from Gaza to Israel is unacceptable and must be condemned,” the ad said.
“Sullivan expressed the government’s commitment to the security of Israel and support for peace and stability across the Middle East and assured Mr. Ben-Shabbat that the US will remain fully committed to promoting the calm in Jerusalem in the days ahead” , it says in the ad.
International calls for calm
International calls to curb violence emerged quickly after the air strikes.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the rocket attacks against Israel had to “stop immediately” and called for de-escalation by “all sides”.
The US is “very concerned about the missile attacks that we are seeing now, which must and must stop immediately,” said Blinken, speaking with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi at the State Department. “Even if all sides are taking steps to de-escalate, Israel naturally has the right to protect its people and territory from these attacks.”
Blinken also spoke of concern about the “provocative actions” in and around Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, also known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi repeated Blinkens remarks, describing the situation as “extremely dangerous” and saying the priority is “to stop the escalation, to ensure that international law is respected, the rights of the Palestinians and the rights of worshipers are upheld and the status quo is maintained. ” and move forward to create that political horizon “that would enable an all-encompassing peace”.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Tamara Qiblawi and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.