Israeli airstrikes have reportedly killed 20 Palestinians, among them nine children and a Hamas commander, as well as injuring 60 other people, after militants fired approximately 150 rockets from Gaza at Jewish targets.
The violence comes after weeks of conflict over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring Hamas had crossed a “red line” by attacking the capital yesterday.
“We will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers. Those who attack us will pay a heavy price,” Netanyahu insisted.
Hamas had issued an ultimatum demanding that Israeli security forces withdraw from the Al-Aqsa mosque, where over 300 people on both sides were injured in clashes, and the Sheikh Jarrah district, an area where more Jewish settlers intend to move into.
Air raid sirens were heard around Jerusalem and the coastal city of Ashkelon shortly after 6pm yesterday when the ultimatum expired, as rockets from Gaza began to land in Israeli territory or be intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System.
No casualties were reported following the attack, but the Israeli military responded swiftly to the rockets, with army spokesman Jonathan Conricus announcing they had “made preparations for various scenarios, including high intensity ones” and that “Hamas will get the message.”
Israel’s defence minister, Benny Gantz, said that “Palestinian terrorism must be fought with an iron fist” after the retaliatory attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza.
Islamic Jihad, another group operating in Gaza who claimed to have fired rockets, said two of their commanders were also killed by Israeli strikes.
The Hamas-run Palestinian health ministry say a total of 20 people, including nine children, died in the Israeli strikes on Gaza.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “all sides need to de-escalate” following the aerial attacks and days of rioting around the Al-Aqsa mosque.