Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired rockets toward the Jerusalem area and southern Israel, carrying out a threat to punish Israel for violent confrontations with Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The Gaza health ministry said nine Palestinians were killed in air strikes in the Palestinian territory after the barrages against Israel.
Hundreds of Palestinians have also been injured during violence in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
Video footage posted on social media showed Israeli police firing tear gas and stun grenades, some of them landing inside the mosque, in the latest in a series of confrontations that is pushing the contested city to the brink of eruption.
Tensions were particularly high as Israel marked ”Jerusalem Day“, an annual celebration of the capture of East Jerusalem, that includes a planned march by hardline Israeli nationalists through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Police have allowed the flag-waving parade to take place despite growing concerns that it could further fan the flames – but reportedly made a last minute concession by re-routing it to avoid Palestinians at the Damascus Gate.
20 killed – including children – in Gaza, Palestinian officials say
Palestinian health officials in the Gaza Strip say a total of 20 people, including nine children, have been killed in fighting with Israel.
The death toll made it one of the bloodiest days of fighting in several years. The Health Ministry did not provide a breakdown on the cause of deaths.
At least seven members of one family, including three children, were killed in an explosion in northern Gaza whose origins were unknown.
The Isareli military said it struck a number of Hamas targets in response to continued rocket fire out of Gaza. It said eight militants were struck.
Meanwhile over in the US, a spokesperson for the State Department said rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip into Israel were an “unacceptable escalation” after violent confrontations with Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Ned Price said the US was “fully engaged” to promote calm in Jerusalem.
At least six rockets launched towards Jerusalem outskirts – Israeli military official
Israeli Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said at least six of the 45 rockets fired from Gaza were launched towards Jerusalem’s outskirts, where a house was hit. No casualties were reported.
“We have started to attack Hamas military targets,” he said in a briefing to foreign reporters, putting no timeframe on any Israeli offensive. “Hamas will pay a heavy price.”
He said Israel had carried out an air strike in northern Gaza against Hamas militants and was looking into reports that children were killed.
“We had multiple events of rockets fired by Gaza terrorists falling short. This might be the same,” Lt Col Conricus said.
‘Whoever attacks us will pay a heavy price’ – Israel PM
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has accused the Hamas militant group of crossing a “red line” with its rocket attack on Jerusalem and promised a tough response.
“We will not tolerate an attack on our territory, in our capital, on our citizens and soldiers. Whoever attacks us will pay a heavy price,” he said.
Blaze near al-Aqsa mosque
A tree caught fire outside al Aqsa mosque but the blaze was quickly put out and no damage was caused to the mosque, witnesses told Reuters.
Tension has been high in Jerusalem and the witnesses said the blaze was caused accidently by Palestinians who had thrown fireworks.
Israeli police and Palestinians had clashed at the site earlier in the day.
Thousands protest near Israeli embassy in Jordan
Several thousand Jordanians protested near Israel‘s embassy in Amman on Monday, calling on their government to scrap its peace deal with Israel in the face of serious Israeli-Palestinian clashes around Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque.
Riot police blocked roads leading to the fortified embassy complex to keep back demonstrators who gathered around the Kaloti mosque in the capital near the Israeli mission.
“No Jewish embassy on Arab land!” protesters chanted. Others clapped when they heard that the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip had fired rockets toward the Jerusalem area and southern Israel on Monday.
“Revenge…revenge…Oh, Hamas, bomb Tel Aviv!” they chanted.
Biden administration concerned about violence, press secretary says
The Biden administration has serious concerns about the escalating violence in Israel as tensions simmer with Palestinians in Jerusalem, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.