For the second time in a week, Israeli fighter jets attack Gaza
Israel’s bombing will only make Palestinians more determined to ‘resist the occupation and step up their support for Jerusalem and its people,’ says Hamas.
Israel has carried out air raids in the central Gaza Strip for the second time this week, according to witnesses, with its military saying its fighter jets attacked an underground complex used to produce rocket engines.
The raids came before dawn on Thursday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The attacks damaged several homes in the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.
Earlier in the night, a rocket fired from Gaza struck southern Israel, causing slight damage to a house but no injuries, Israeli police said. Four more rockets were also fired from Gaza, the Israeli military said, following its raids on the besieged coastal enclave, but were intercepted by air defence systems.
No Palestinian faction claimed responsibility for the rocket launches.
In a statement, Hamas, the group that administers Gaza, said Israel’s bombing will only make Palestinians more determined to “resist the occupation and step up their support for Jerusalem and its people”.
The exchanges come after nearly a month of deadly violence in Israel and the Palestine, focused on Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israeli forces raided the compound at dawn on Thursday, and targeted worshipers with tear gas and rubber bullets, as Palestinian youth responded with petrol bombs, according to Palestinian media.
Israeli police said that dozens of rioters had thrown stones and petrol bombs from the mosque, alleging that “a violent splinter group is stopping Muslim worshipers from entering the mosque and causing damage to the site.”
Seven Palestinians, all residents of occupied east Jerusalem, had been arrested on suspicion of taking part in “violent incidents” on Wednesday, it added.
A surge of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory has raised fears of a slide back to a wider conflict, after last year’s 11-day Israeli assault on Gaza, in which more than 250 Palestinians in Gaza and 13 people in Israel were killed.
Early Wednesday evening, more than 1,000 ultra-nationalist demonstrators waving Israeli flags had gathered, some shouting “death to the Arabs”.
On Tuesday, Israel carried out its first strike on Gaza in months, in response to the first rocket since January from the Palestinian enclave.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned by the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem”.
He added that he was in contact with the parties to press them “to do all they can to lower tensions, avoid inflammatory actions and rhetoric”
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