Israel Shooting Down Palestinian Rocket As Tensions Mount
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
JERUSALEM (Worthy News) – Israeli fighter jets carried out airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip, targeting a “weapons manufacturing site” for Hamas, the Israeli military said.
There were no reports of injuries in the bombings, which came hours after Israel said it intercepted a rocket fired by Palestinian militants for the first time in months.
Monday’s missile strike prompting the Israeli air raids targeted the south of the Jewish state, officials said.
It was another escalation after clashes at a sensitive religious site in Jerusalem, a series of deadly attacks inside Israel, and military raids across the West Bank.
Since Friday, Al Aqsa – also revered by Jews as a relic of two ancient temples – has seen confrontations between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli riot police. The clashes recalled violence that helped spark a Gaza war one year ago.
Palestinians accuse Israel of encroaching at Al Aqsa during what they view as “the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.” Israel says Palestinian protesters seek to disrupt Muslim prayer for political ends and to prevent visits by Jews celebrating Passover.
Yet there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in Monday’s missile attack, which Israel blamed on Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.
However, it was the first such rocket fire since New Year’s Eve. Also, the leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group, which boasts an arsenal of rockets, issued a brief, cryptic warning, condemning Israeli “violations” in Jerusalem.
Ziad al-Nakhala, based outside the Palestinian territories, said he responded to threats to tighten an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza.
The blockade, imposed after Hamas seized power 15 years ago, he warned, “can’t silence us from what’s happening in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.”
Within hours, Israeli airstrikes hit camps used by Hamas and another Gaza faction, Palestinian sources said. The military said one target was an arms manufacturing site. No one was hurt.
The tensions complicated Israel’s security ties with Jordan, the custodian of Al Aqsa and has a Palestinian majority.
Jordan’s King Abdullah told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Israel’s Al Aqsa policy “seriously undermines” chances of making peace with the Palestinians. Jordan also summoned Israel’s acting ambassador for a reprimand.
Escalating the rhetoric, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh told parliament: “I must laud … those throwing their stones at all of those Zionists who desecrate Al Aqsa mosque with the protection of the Israeli occupation government.”
The rhetoric did little to ease tensions. Several passengers were injured when Palestinians stoned Israeli buses they were traveling on to Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, police said. Police added that Al Aqsa protesters have been stockpiling rocks for attacks on Jewish visitors and police.
At least 152 Palestinians and eight police were injured around Al Aqsa during Friday’s confrontations, medics said.
“I view with gravity the statements blaming Israel for the violence we are being subjected to. Some are encouraging stone-throwing,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a video statement.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department said U.S. officials engaged in phone calls with Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab representatives over the weekend to prevent an escalation of the Jerusalem tensions.
But there were no signs yet that peace would return fast to Jerusalem.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.