Towards a new military escalation against the background of tensions linked to the holy places in Jerusalem.
Wednesday evening, a rocket was fired for the second time this week, from the Gaza Strip to fall on a field in the Israeli town of Sderot (south) without causing injuries.
In the process, the Israeli army carried out a series of strikes in the center of this territory under the control of the Islamists of Hamas.
"Israeli army fighter jets targeted military positions and the entrance to a tunnel leading to an underground complex where chemicals used to propel rockets are stored," the Israeli army said.
“These strikes on the Gaza Strip will increase the determination of our people and the resistance (…) to defend our holy sites in Jerusalem, regardless of the sacrifices,” the Hamas spokesman said in a statement. , Hazem Qassem.
Shortly after the retaliatory strikes, four more rockets were fired at Israel, where they were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile shield, the army said as alarm sirens sounded in the middle of the night in Israeli localities neighboring the Gaza Strip.
Tensions amid protests
The exchanges of fire – the second this week and among the most intense since the end of the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021 – come after clashes over the weekend between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police on the Esplanade of the Mosques of Jerusalem.
On Thursday morning, Israeli police said in a statement that "dozens of rioters threw stones and incendiary bottles from the Al-Aqsa Mosque" at the police.
"A violent group prevents Muslim worshipers from entering the mosque and causes damage to the place," the statement added.
Seven Palestinians, residents of East Jerusalem, suspected of having participated in "violent incidents" on the esplanade on Wednesday were also arrested, police said.
The presence of Jews – who can visit the esplanade under specific conditions and times, but cannot pray there by virtue of a tacit agreement – and police officers on site during Ramadan, has been perceived by Palestinians and several countries of the region as a gesture of provocation.
"I will not bend"
“I will not allow Ben Gvir's political provocation to endanger Israeli soldiers and police, and further complicate their mission,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.
“I say it clearly (…), I will not bend,” retorted Ben Gvir.
“Under what law am I not allowed to enter Damascus Gate?
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is “deeply concerned about the deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem,” his spokesman in New York said on Wednesday.
"He is in contact with all parties to reduce tensions, prevent inflammatory actions and rhetoric."
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