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Israel and Gaza exchange fire after security forces clash with Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque


This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission. Sign up here to get Haaretz’s free Daily Brief newsletter delivered to your inbox.

The Israeli military says it attacked Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza early Wednesday morning following heavy rocket fire from the strip into Israel overnight and intense clashes between security forces and Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Rocket sirens were activated overnight into Wednesday in southern Israeli towns bordering the Gaza Strip following the launch of 16 projectiles into Israeli territory.

Sixteen projectiles were launched into southern Israeli territory and rocket sirens were activated in the towns of Sderot, Erez and Nir Am. The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson said that one rocket hit a factory near Sderot and the rest hit open areas or were intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, Iron Dome. No casualties were reported.

Israel’s security establishment wants to avoid an escalation on the eve of Passover. The IDF communicated to Hamas through intermediaries that quiet would be met with quiet.

According to the army, Israel targeted two weapon storage and production facilities belonging to Hamas and a military compound in the northern strip.

The Hamas spokesperson said in response that “The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip this morning is a failed attempt to prevent Gaza from continuing its support, by all means, for our people in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Palestinian people, with the support of the resistance in the Gaza Strip, will remain a sword and shield for Jerusalem. The bombing does not scare us, but increases our devotion to exercising our right to support the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The spokesman for Hamas’ military wing (also known as the Al-Qassam Brigades) Abu Obeida said in a recording that “the patience of the resistance forces in Gaza is running out, we won’t leave the worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque alone.”

Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri released a statement in response to the events at the mosque, saying “The Israeli aggression against the worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque is a heinous crime, and the Palestinian people and the resistance forces will respond with all their might.” Al-Aruri continued: “We call on all members of our people to respond strongly and by all means, to burn the ground under the feet of the occupation.”

The rocket sirens follow earlier clashes that erupted between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers that barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. Police used stun grenades and rubber bullets inside the mosque and the surrounding compound to clear out lingering worshippers. The Palestinian Red Crescent said seven Palestinians sustained wounds from rubber-tipped bullets and beatings in clashes with Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

The post Israel and Gaza exchange fire after security forces clash with Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque appeared first on The Forward.

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