Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip as tensions soar in Jerusalem

No casualties or injuries reported by the Palestinian health ministry after Israel said it hit a Hamas weapons manufacturing site.

Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israel-Palestinian violence, in the southern Gaza Strip
Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air attacks in the southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Israeli warplanes launched an attack in the Gaza Strip targeting what the military said was a weapons manufacturing site belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian group that administers the coastal enclave.

No casualties or injuries were reported by the Palestinian health ministry on Tuesday.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades – the armed branch of Hamas – said they retaliated with surface-to-air missiles. No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rocket, which Israel said was shot down by its Iron Dome interceptor.

The attack comes after a rocket fired from the besieged Gaza Strip into southern Israel was intercepted on Monday, the first such attack in months amid soaring tensions over Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

Hamas had warned that any incidents at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site revered by Muslims and Jews, would be a “red line” after Israeli forces raided the site in occupied East Jerusalem several times in recent days, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and leaving dozens injured.

On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli police inside the mosque compound, the latest outbreak in a surge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

Palestinians accuse Israel of encroaching at Al-Aqsa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israel says Palestinian protesters seek to disrupt Muslim prayer for political ends and to prevent visits by Jews, who are celebrating Passover.

Egypt and Jordan, which inked peace agreements with Israel decades ago and coordinate with it on security matters, have condemned the actions of Israeli forces at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jordan – which serves as custodian of the site – summoned Israel’s chargé d’affaires in Amman on Monday to deliver a message of condemnation.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Monday that Israel’s “unilateral” moves against Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque seriously undermined the prospects for peace in the region, according to state media.

The monarch was speaking with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he made remarks that Israel was undertaking “provocative acts” in the mosque compound that violated “the legal and historic status quo” of the holy shrines.

Crackdowns by Israeli forces on protesters who were demonstrating against attempts to forcibly expel Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah last year led to an escalation as Hamas fighters launched rockets and Israel launched an 11-day assault on Gaza.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh on Monday praised members of the Islamic Waqf, the trust that oversees the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, “who stand tall and those who throw rocks at the pro-Zionists who are defiling Al-Aqsa Mosque while under the security of the Israeli occupation government”.

In response to al-Khasawneh’s remarks, Bennett said: “This is unacceptable to us. This is a reward for the inciters, especially Hamas, which are trying to ignite violence in Jerusalem.”

Israel has sought to improve relations with Jordan over the past year and has recently normalised relations with other Arab states over their shared concerns about Iran.

But a recent wave of violence that left 25 Palestinians and 14 Israelis dead has brought renewed attention to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which it has sought to sideline in recent years.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies