HASNear the attacks in Israel, the heavy-handed operations in the West Bank and the violence this weekend in Jerusalem, the first rocket in months was fired into Israeli territory on Monday evening, a sign that local tensions show no signs of easing. On the evening of Monday, April 19, the alarm sirens sounded in southern Israel for the first rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards Israel since the beginning of January when a projectile crashed into the sea off the Tel Aviv metropolis. In response, the Israeli air force carried out night strikes in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said, while the armed wing of Hamas announced that it had opened fire on Israeli aircraft.
“A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory and was intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system,” the Israeli military said in a statement. This new rocket attack has not been claimed, but it comes after a series of attacks in Israel, two of which were carried out by Palestinians in Tel Aviv, “counter-terrorism” operations in the occupied West Bank, and a tense weekend at the holy sites in Jerusalem.
These attacks had left 14 dead since March 22 in Israel. And 22 Palestinians, including assailants, were killed in Israeli incidents or operations in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 by the Jewish state. In Jerusalem, more than 150 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces on Friday at the Jerusalem Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, also considered Judaism’s first holiest site under its name of Mount of the Temple.
Sunday, new skirmishes had broken out in and around this holy place that Jews had gone to visit, which was considered an affront by some Muslims. And young Palestinians were arrested the same day after throwing stones at Israeli civilian buses near the scene.
Remembering May 2021?
Last year, clashes in Jerusalem during the same period of the year led Hamas to launch salvoes of rockets from Gaza towards Israel, which responded by bombarding this Palestinian territory of 2.3 million inhabitants, giving rise to to a deadly 11-day war. Israeli security sources and analysts have repeated in recent weeks that Hamas, which has welcomed recent attacks in Israel, does not want a war this year citing mainly two reasons.
Firstly, the movement’s military capabilities had been affected by the May 2021 war. And secondly because in the event of a conflict, the new Israeli government risks suspending the thousands of work permits granted in recent months to workers in Gaza, territory under blockade weighed down by a local unemployment rate of around 50%. On Monday, the Islamic Jihad, the main Palestinian armed Islamist group after Hamas, but which unlike it does not administer the Gaza Strip, threatened a new military escalation.
“We can no longer remain silent about what is happening in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank,” Ziad al-Nakhale, the head of Islamic Jihad, whose movement has thousands of fighters according to Israeli intelligence, said in a statement. and rockets in Gaza.
Israel versus Jordan?
The recent incidents at the Al-Aqsa Mosque also dampened relations between Israel and Jordan on Monday, which summoned the Israeli charge d’affaires in Amman to demand an end to “illegal and provocative Israeli violations” in Israel. esplanade of the Mosques. Jordan, bound to Israel by a peace treaty since 1994, administers the Esplanade des Mosques, where the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located, but access to this place is controlled by Israel.
This summons “harms efforts to restore calm to Jerusalem”, retorted the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Statements accusing Israel of the violence that is directed against us are serious and unacceptable […]it is a reward for those who stir up violence”, added Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, at the head of a coalition bringing together, among other things, the right and an Arab party and which is weakened by recent events.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday evening that his country was “greatly concerned” about the tensions. He said top US officials were in telephone contact with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Arab countries.