The Gaza Strip was under the most intense bombardment since 2014 on Wednesday, as Israel unleashed a huge firestorm on the territory in response to Hamas missiles, and the death toll on both sides continued to grow as world leaders appealed for calm.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, issued a statement calling for an end to violence, but a UN-brokered ceasefire was immediately rejected by Israel.
The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said that they had killed two senior Hamas intelligence chiefs, tweeting: ‘Looks like our intel was better.’
Hassan Kaogi, head of the Hamas military intelligence security department, and his deputy, Wail Issa, head of the military intelligence counterespionage department, were killed by Israeli fighter jets, the IDF said.
The Palestinian death toll was at 36 on Wednesday morning, with ten children among the dead.
Five Israelis are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which the mayor of one hard-hit Israeli town labeled ‘civil war’.
Yair Revivo, mayor of the Israeli city of Lod, called for army back-up to help secure the area, saying ‘civil war’ was breaking out as residents clashed following the funeral of an Arab man killed by a Jewish local.
‘This is Kristallnacht in Lod,’ said Revivo, in reference to the Nazi pogrom against German Jews in 1938.
‘I have called on the prime minister to declare a state of emergency in Lod. To call in the IDF. To impose a curfew. To restore quiet.
‘There is a failure of governance.
‘This is a giant incident – an Intifada of Arab Israelis. All the work we have done here for years [on coexistence] has gone down the drain.’
Revivo said his city was spiraling out of control.
‘All of Israel should know, this is a complete loss of control,’ he said, according to The Times of Israel.
‘This is unthinkable. Synagogues are being burned. Hundreds of cars set alight. Hundreds of Arab thugs are roaming the streets.
‘Civil war has erupted in Lod.
‘The Orthodox-nationalist community here has guns. I’m imploring them to go back home but they understandably want to protect their homes. Petrol bombs are being thrown into [Jewish] homes. The situation is incendiary.’
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared declared a state of emergency in Lod, and reinforcements were sent to the area after clashes broke out.
Speaking the day before, he ‘deplored’ the deaths of the two women in Israel, adding that the country’s military would ‘further increase both the intensity and the rate’ of its own air strikes against Gaza.
‘Hamas will be hit in ways that it does not expect,’ Netanyahu said, before the announcement of the third woman’s death in Israel. ‘We have eliminated commanders, hit many important targets and we have decided to attack harder and increase the pace of attacks.’
Israel and Hamas exchanged missile strikes into Wednesday morning leaving dozens dead, as Donald Trump blamed Joe Biden’s ‘weakness’ on Middle Eastern issues for the renewed conflict between the two sides.
Officials in Gaza said 35 Palestinians – including ten children – have been killed in the latest clashes. The Israeli military claimed at least 16 of the dead were militants, while seven deaths have been attributed to the same family, including three children. Some may have been the result of errant Hamas missiles.
In Israel, three women have been killed – one in her 60s and another in her 80s during Hamas rocket attacks earlier on Tuesday, and a third victim aged 50 on Tuesday evening when a rocket hit a building in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion.
The renewed confrontation, following weeks of tensions and clashes in the contested Jerusalem, was sparked on Monday evening when Hamas fired a barrage of missiles towards Jerusalem. It continued into the early hours of Wednesday morning, with more rockets being fired by the Islamist group into Tel Aviv, and by Israel into Gaza.
On Tuesday afternoon, former U.S. President Donald Trump posted to his website, saying that America ‘will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself’ as he criticised President Joe Biden over the growing crisis.
Earlier, the White House had said Biden was being briefed on the escalating situation.
Israel’s Iron Dome defence system continued to struggle with the volume of rockets being fired from Gaza on Tuesday evening, after an Israeli air strike caused a 13-storey residential building to collapse in Gaza City.
The cross-border violence has been fuelled by Israel’s evictions of Muslim communities living in east Jerusalem which led to angry riots breaking out on Temple Mount over the weekend, with hundreds left injured on Monday as riot police shot rubber bullets and fired tear gas at protesters.
Pictured: Video footage from Tuesday evening showed three plumes of thick, black smoke rising from a Gaza residential block as it toppled over following an Israeli air strike. A large residential tower block in Gaza has collapsed today after one of several dozen Israeli cross-border air strikes on Tuesday night, as Hamas vowed to turn Israel into ‘a hell’
Pictured: People gather at the site of a collapsed building in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes on Gaza City on May 11, 2021. Hamas Islamists said they had fired 130 rockets towards Tel Aviv on Tuesday, unleashing a massive barrage on Israel’s economic hub, in retaliation for an Israeli strike on 12-storey tower near Gaza’s coast
Pictured: Rockets are launched from Gaza city, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, in response to an Israeli air strike on a 12-storey building in the city, towards the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021
Israeli security forces walk past extinguished burnt vehicles in Holon near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021, after rockets were launched towards Israel from the Gaza Strip controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement
Pictured: Smoke rises from the streets of Gaza after Israeli air strikes were launched amid tit-for-tat strikes against Hamas
Pictured: Smoke and flame rise after Israeli warplanes conducted airstrikes in Gaza City, Gaza on May 12, 2021
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tours the city of Lod early on May 12, 2021. He declared a state of emergency in the central city of Lod as police accused Arab residents of waging ‘wide-scale riots’
TRUMP: ‘WEAK’ BIDEN TO BLAME FOR CONFLICT
Former US President Donald Trump blamed his successor Joe Biden’s ‘weakness’ for the renewed clashes in the Middle East. Writing on his website Trump, he said:
‘When I was in office we were known as the Peace Presidency, because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked.
‘Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies.
‘America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks, and make clear that the U.S. will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself.
‘Unbelievably, Democrats also continue to stand by crazed anti-American Rep. Ilhan Omar, and others, who savagely attack Israel while they are under terrorist assault.’
Residents of the collapsed residential block and the surrounding area had been warned to evacuate the area around an hour before the air strike, according to witnesses, and there were no reports of casualties two hours after it collapsed.
Shortly after the attack, Hamas – the Islamist group that rules inside Gaza – and the Islamic Jihad group said they would respond by firing rockets at Tel Aviv, which they did by firing 210 rockets towards Beersheba and Tel Aviv in response to the bombing of the tower buildings in Gaza City.
Air raid sirens and explosions were heard around the city, and the skies were lit up by the streaks of multiple interceptor missiles launched towards the incoming rockets.
Pedestrians ran for shelter, and diners streamed out of Tel Aviv restaurants while others flattened themselves on pavements as the sirens sounded.
The Israel Airports Authority said it had halted take-offs at Tel Aviv airport ‘to allow defence of the nation’s skies’. Video broadcast on Israeli Channel 12 television showed interceptor missiles rising above the runways.
‘We are now carrying out our promise,’ Hamas’s armed wing said. ‘The Qassam Brigades are launching their biggest rocket strike against Tel Aviv and its suburbs, with 130 rockets, in response to the enemy’s targeting of residential towers.’
The sound of the outgoing rockets could be heard in Gaza. As the rockets rose into the skies, mosques across Gaza blared with chants of ‘God is great,’ ‘victory to Islam’ and ‘resistance.’
One rocket struck a bus in the central city of Holon, just south of Tel Aviv. Medics said three people, including a five-year-old girl, were wounded and the bus went up in flames.
Israel said it had sent 80 jets to bomb Gaza, and dispatched infantry and armour to reinforce the tanks already gathered on the border, evoking memories of the last ground incursion into Gaza to stop rocket attacks, in 2014.
More than 2,100 Gazans were killed in the seven-week war that followed, according to the Gaza health ministry, along with 73 Israelis, and thousands of homes in Gaza were razed.
Pictured: Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, May 11, 2021. Rocket fire was so relentless that Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defence system seemed to be overwhelmed on Tuesday
Pictured: Smokes rise from buildings as Israeli fighter jets continue to pound a Palestinian building called ‘Hanady’ at Al-Rimal neighbourhood in the Gaza Strip, on May 11, 2021
Pictured: Israeli firefighters check out damaged vehicles in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021, after rockets are launched towards Israel from Gaza. Hamas has vowed to turn Israel into ‘a hell’ after rockets fired from Gaza killed two Israeli women today following a night of cross-border strikes
Pictured: A bomb drops near a Palestinian building called ‘Hanady’ at Al-Rimal neighbourhood as Israeli fighter jets continue to pound in the Gaza Strip, on May 11, 2021
A wounded Palestinian boy is transported to hospital after an Israeli air strike in Gaza today
By late Tuesday, the violence extended to Tel Aviv, which came under fire from a barrage of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. The outgoing volleys set off air raid sirens across the city, and the main international airport quickly closed
Mayor of Lod says a ‘civil war has erupted’ in his city and calls for military intervention
In the central Israeli town of Lod, police on Tuesday fired tear gas and stun grenades after mourners threw rocks at officers during the funeral of an Arab man allegedly shot to death by a Jewish resident the night before.
Thousands took part in the funeral, and police said the crowd set fire to a patrol car, a bus and a motorcycle. Two police officers were injured.
Lod’s Mayor Yair Revivo said earlier on Tuesday the he had asked Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare a state-of-emergency in the state in central Israel, which he did so early on Wednesday.
Netanyahu himself went to the city, which is in the suburbs of economic hub Tel Aviv near the Ben Gurion airport, to call for calm.
The city of 77,000 people, including 47,000 Jewish Israelis and 23,000 Arab Israelis, had been the scene of violent clashes on Monday, the local police confirmed to AFP.
Israeli border police vehicles drive past an extinguished burnt vehicle in Lod near Tel Aviv, on May 11, 2021
Mr Revivo said the clashes were ‘too big for the police’ and called for the military to be deployed.
‘This is Kristallnacht in Lod,’ he said, in reference to the pogrom against Germany Jews carried out by Nazi Germany in 1938.
‘I have called on the prime minister to declare a state of emergency in Lod. To call in the IDF. To impose a curfew. To restore quiet… There is a failure of governance…
‘This is a giant incident — an Intifada of Arab Israelis. All the work we have done here for years [on coexistence] has gone down the drain.’
‘All of Israel should know, this is a complete loss of control… This is unthinkable. Synagogues are being burned. Hundreds of cars set alight. Hundreds of Arab thugs are roaming the streets…
‘Civil war has erupted in Lod… The Orthodox-nationalist community here has guns. I’m imploring them to go back home but they understandably want to protect their homes. Petrol bombs are being thrown into [Jewish] homes. The situation is incendiary.’
The mayor also claimed that Israelis were leaving their homes with guns out of fear for their lives, and that Islamists were allegedly inciting the city’s youths.
‘We haven’t done anything to you,’ he pleaded, as he begged for calm in the city.
‘Every minute, a car or a synagogue or a school is going up in flames… Our new city hall was broken into and set alight. You don’t understand what’s happening here. This is worse than the missiles from Gaza,’ Revivo said.
He said ‘there’s been nothing like this in the history of Israel,’ according to The Times of Israel.
Palestinians carry the coffin of Palestinian Musa Hassune who was killed by an Israeli gunman’s fire, during a funeral ceremony in the city of Lod, on May 11, 2021
The shooting early on Tuesday in Lod came at a time of heightened tensions following weeks of unrest at a contested holy site in Jerusalem and heavy fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
The fighting has spilled over into Israel’s Arab sector, with protests taking place in dozens of communities across the country.
Thousands of people took part in the funeral in Lod. Israeli police have arrested three people suspected of involvement in the shooting.
‘Wide-scale riots erupted by some of the Arab residents and endangering communities,’ the police said in a statement. ‘Vehicle were burnt and damage caused to property.’
The government said reinforcements had been deployed after Israeli media reported that three synagogues and several businesses were set on fire in Lod.
‘Sixteen border police platoons (have been) mobilised in areas in order to deal with the violence,’ the police added.
The barrage of rockets leaving Gaza and airstrikes coming into the territory continued almost non-stop throughout the day, in what appeared to be some of the most intense fighting between Israel and Hamas since their 2014 war.
Rocket fire was so relentless on Tuesday that Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defence system seemed to be overwhelmed, with over 480 rockets reportedly fired at Israel.
Meanwhile, columns of smoke rose from many places in Gaza as the IDF struck more than 130 targets throughout Monday.
The U.N. Security will hold emergency consultations Wednesday on the escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis.
The U.N. Mideast envoy, Tor Wennesland, is expected to brief the 15 council members virtually at the closed meeting, which is being called at the request of China, Tunisia and Norway.
China holds the council presidency this month and its U.N. mission confirms plans for the second emergency meeting in three days. It is an indication of growing international concern about the conflict and where it might lead.
The U.N.’s most powerful body has not yet taken any action.
China, Tunisia and Norway proposed a draft statement at Monday’s meeting expressing ‘grave concern’ at escalating tensions and calling on Israel to cease evictions.
Wennesland tweeted: ‘Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation.
‘The cost of war in Gaza is devastating & is being paid by ordinary people. UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now,’ he wrote.
Egypt was been trying to broker a cease-fire into Tuesday, but the cycle of violence was gaining momentum.
Even before the two Israeli deaths, the Israeli military said it was sending troop reinforcements to the Gaza border and the defence minister Benny Gantz ordered the mobilisation of 5,000 reserve soldiers.
But contrary to Egypt’s efforts, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged Palestinians to ‘build up power’ on state television, saying ‘Zionists (Israel) only understand the language of force’.
Iran and Israel consider one-another arch enemies, with Iran refusing to recognise the existence of Israel as a state since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Iranian state TV on Tuesday quoted Khamenei as saying that it was a duty of every state to take a stand and condemn this ‘evil, criminal, brutal and cruel’ action by Israel.
Khamenei also said Palestinian need to be empowered in order to ‘force’ Israel to accept their rights.
‘They should make themselves powerful, resist and confront so as to force the other party to withdraw from crime and surrender to what’s right and fair,’ Khamenei said.
Iran backs anti-Israel militant groups across the region, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
In the U.S., the White House said on Tuesday that President Biden was being briefed daily on developments in Jerusalem and Gaza, and has directed his team to engage intensively with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials as well as leaders throughout the Middle East.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that Biden’s team is communicating a clear and consistent message in support of de escalation.
‘That is our primary focus,’ she said, adding that Biden supports Israel’s ‘legitimate right to defend itself and its people’ and at the same time condemns ongoing ‘rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups including against Jerusalem.’
She added that the Biden administration ‘will also continue to support a two state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.’
But on his own website, former President Donald Trump posted a message saying that America ‘America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks, and make clear that the U.S. will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself.’
Trump criticised Biden, saying: ‘Because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked.
‘Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies.’
Tuesday also saw a pipeline belonging to an Israeli state-owned energy company hit in a rocket attack from Gaza, an Israeli government official and an energy sector official told Reuters.
Video broadcast by Channel 12 showed flames rising from what appeared to be a large fuel vat near the Israeli Mediterranean city of Ashkelon, south of Tel Aviv.
Operations at a power plant in Ashkelon were not interrupted, Channel 13 TV said.
Fire billows from Israeli air strikes in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday morning. At least 26 Palestinians – including nine children – were killed, most by airstrikes, health officials in Gaza reported.
Rockets are fired from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, towards Israel on Tuesday
Smoke billows and sparks fly from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday as Israel and Hamas exchanged heavy fire
Palestinians flee with their children as civilians are evacuated from a building being targeted by an Israeli bombardment in Gaza
A huge explosion from an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Tuesday causes sparks to fly into the air as a cloud of black smoke rises above the city
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah asks world leaders to end ‘killing of innocent people’ in tweet
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah has called on Boris Johnson and other world leaders to end the ‘killing of innocent people’ amid continued unrest between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Egyptian footballer said ‘enough is enough’ in a post on Twitter in which he mentioned the Prime Minister’s official account, although he did not reveal what it was in reference to.
It comes after at least 30 people have died following weeks of tensions in Jerusalem, which has led to calls for a de-escalation on all sides from the international community.
Pictured: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah on Saturday
The Liverpool forward tweeted: ‘I’m calling on all the world leaders including on the Prime Minister of the country that has been my home for the past 4 years to do everything in their power to make sure the violence and killing of innocent people stops immediately.
‘Enough is enough.’
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is among those to have called for an end to ongoing violence in Jerusalem and Gaza, urging for an ‘end to targeting of civilian populations’ on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said she has been granted an Urgent Question in the Commons on Wednesday on the issue.
The MP said on Twitter: ‘The UK Govt must set out its plan to work with our international partners to facilitate a de-escalation now.’
Reporting by: Press Association
In Israel, residents of Ashkelon have been running to shelters as air raid sirens wail. ‘At around 5am, we were woken by sirens. We had to hide in the wardrobe because there is no shelter in the house,’ said Shelly Belayev, whose building was heavily damaged, its facade blackened and an apartment devastated.
‘There was a very strong explosion, I have never heard a sound like it. I quickly realised the missile fell here,’ she said. ‘I went outside, I was in shock.’
Since the sirens began late Monday, barrages of rockets launched from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave have rained down on the coastal city, located just north of the Gaza Strip.
The deluge continued on Tuesday, with Hamas’ armed wing the Qassam Brigades saying it had fired 137 rockets on Ashkelon and nearby Ashdod within just five minutes during the afternoon.
Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas, announced on Tuesday that two of its commanders were killed during continued Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Sources within the group said the strikes in central Gaza, also ‘wounded eight people, including a woman and her two children.’
On Tuesday, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claimed it had killed a top Hamas Commander in a statement , saying: ‘We just killed the commander of the Hamas anti-tank missile unit, Iyad Fathi Faik Sharir. He was in charge of carrying out anti-tank missile attacks on Israel. Our aircraft are currently striking additional terror targets’.
Other high-profile Hamas targets are also said to have been killed. One was identified as Samah Abed al-Mamlouk, who the IDF said was in a hideout along with other operatives. He is said to have been in charge of the Islamic Jihad’s rocket arsenal.
Another – Hassan Abu al-Atta – was also killed. He is thought to have been a deputy commander of Islamic Jihad’s Gaza Brigade. He was killed when the IDF struck an eight-storey building in Gaza’s Rimal neighbourhood.
The United Nations said it was ‘deeply concerned’ over the escalation of violence in the region, warning Israel that Palestinians must be allowed the freedom to congregate and protest.
‘We condemn all violence and all incitement to violence and ethnic division and provocations,’ spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva today.
He added: ‘No force should be used against those exercising their rights peacefully.’ When use of force is necessary, it should comply fully with international human rights standards, he added.
Colville said the office of UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was particularly concerned about the impact of the violence on children. ‘Detained children should be released,’ Colville said. ‘Things need to calm down.’
An Israeli sapper checks a damaged apartment building in the southern town of Ashkelon after it was hit by a Palestinian missile on Tuesday morning
A home in the Israeli town of Ashkelon, around 12 miles north of Gaza, which has been targeted by Hamas rockets since last night
Medics evacuate a person injured after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a house in Ashkelon on Tuesday
A Palestinian man holds an injured girl while she awaits medical care at al-Shifa hospital after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on Tuesday
Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepts a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip in the skies above the southern city of Ashkelon on Monday
People gather on the rubble of a factory and car garages destroyed by Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City on Tuesday
Mourners chant Islamic slogans while they carry the body of Amira Soboh, and her 19-year-old disabled son Abdelrahman, who were killed in Israeli airstrikes at their apartment building, during their funeral at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza
Bodies of the victims of an Israeli air strike are carried through Gaza on Tuesday
Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepts a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, above the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon
Israeli firefighters extinguish a car which caught on fire after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel
Israeli civilians take cover as the missile warning sirens ring out in the southern city of Ashkelon on Tuesday amid renewed bombardments
Smoke and flames billow into the air as Israeli warplanes drop bombs on the Gaza strip on Tuesday morning. It comes after militants launched more than 200 rockets at Israel, injuring six civilians
Rockets are fired from Gaza City towards Israel on Tuesday afternoon as airstrikes continue
Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday
Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes on the southern Gaza Strip this morning
An explosion goes off in Gaza City as Israeli warplanes drop bombs on Hamas targets after riots broke out on Temple Mount over the weekend
Damage left by an Israeli air strike is seen on Tuesday in Gaza City after the two sides exchanged rockets and bombs throughout the night
Rockets fired from Gaza City are seen streaming towards Israel this morning as the two sides exchanged fire throughout the night
Smoke rises high above Gaza City following Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on Tuesday
A number of Israeli air strikes have hit Gaza city, with plumes of smoke billowing across the skyline on Tuesday
A heavily damaged house, with furniture, bricks and plaster blown across the building, is pictured at a targeted residential neighbourhood in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday as rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel
In a sign of widening unrest, hundreds of residents of Arab communities across Israel staged overnight demonstrations denouncing the recent actions of Israeli security forces against Palestinians. It was one of the largest protests by Palestinian citizens in Israel in recent years.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes since the militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007. Recent rounds of fighting have usually ended after a few days, often helped by behind-the-scenes mediation by Qatar, Egypt and others.
Why are violent clashes taking place in Jerusalem?
When did the protests start?
From the beginning of Ramadan in mid-April, Palestinians clashed nightly with Israeli police, who put up barriers to stop evening gatherings at the walled Old City’s Damascus Gate after iftar, the breaking of the daytime fast.
Palestinians saw the barriers as a restriction on their freedom to assemble. Police said they were there to maintain order.
Why did the violence flare up again?
An Israeli Supreme Court hearing was due on May 10 in a long-running legal case about whether several Palestinian families would be evicted and their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood near Damascus Gate that was given to Israeli settlers.
Some settlers have already moved into the street affected – living next door to the Palestinians facing possible removal.
As the court hearing neared, Palestinians and left-wing Israelis began holding larger demonstrations, saying more evictions could cause a domino effect throughout the overwhelmingly Palestinian neighbourhood.
Sheikh Jarrah also contains a site revered by religious Jews as the tomb of an ancient high priest, Simon the Just, leading to frequent tensions between Palestinian living there and religious Jews visiting it.
The case, in which a lower court ruled that the land in question belonged to Jews in East Jerusalem before the 1948 War, has gathered domestic and international attention, amid criticism of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.
On Sunday U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke to his Israeli counterpart to express ‘serious concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,’ the White House said. read more
And United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed ‘his deep concern over the continuing violence in occupied East Jerusalem, as well as the possible evictions of Palestinian families from their homes,’ U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Sunday.
On Sunday the Supreme Court hearing on the evictions was postponed, pushing at least one flashpoint past the end of Ramadan and allowing more time for a resolution. A new session will be scheduled within 30 days. read more
Monday is Jerusalem Day, Israel’s annual commemoration of its capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 war. The event usually sees a march through the walled Old City by Jewish pilgrims, including ultra-nationalists, which could be another flashpoint.
Why is Jerusalem so sensitive?
Politics, history and religion.
At the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City is the hill known to Jews across the world as Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism – and to Muslims internationally as The Noble Sanctuary. It was home to the Jewish temples of antiquity. Two Muslim holy places now stand there, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in Islam.
Christians also revere the city as the place where they believe that Jesus preached, died and was resurrected.
Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern section as a capital of a future state. Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is unrecognized internationally.
An Egyptian official confirmed that the country was trying to broker a truce. But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing sensitive diplomacy, said Israeli actions in Jerusalem had complicated those efforts. A Palestinian security official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the cease-fire efforts.
Critics say heavy-handed police measures helped stoke nightly unrest, including a decision to temporarily seal off a popular night-time gathering spot where Palestinian residents would meet after evening prayers.
Another flashpoint was the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah where dozens of Palestinians are under treat of eviction by Jewish settlers.
Over the weekend, confrontations erupted at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in east Jerusalem, which was captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.
The compound, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, is the third holiest site of Islam and the holiest site of Judaism.
For four successive days, Israel police fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at Palestinians in the compound who hurled stones and chairs.
Hundreds of Palestinians were hurt, requiring treatment at hospitals. Two dozen officers were also injured. At times, police fired stun grenades into the carpeted mosque.
On Monday evening, Hamas began firing rockets from Gaza, setting off air raid sirens as far as Jerusalem, after giving Israel a deadline to withdraw Israeli security forces from the compound. From there on, the escalation was rapid.
Speaking of the Israeli response to Hamas’s rocket attacks, army spokesman Conricus said on Monday evening: ‘We have started, and I repeat started, to attack military targets in Gaza.
‘We have made preparations for various scenarios, including high intensity ones… Hamas will get the message.’
Amnesty International said Israel is using ‘abusive and wanton force against largely peaceful Palestinian protesters.’
The London-based human rights group described some of the measures as ‘disproportionate and unlawful’, accusing security forces of ‘unprovoked attacks on peaceful demonstrators’.
Amnesty said Israel has used excessive force over multiple weeks of east Jerusalem protests.
In one incident, it said Israeli forces last week broke up a peaceful circle of Palestinians chanting against an attempt by Israelis to evict them from their homes in the city’s Sheikh Jarrah district.
Forces on horseback sprinted toward the crowd, trampling a man who was trying to run away, Amnesty said.
The rights group called on the international community ‘to hold Israel accountable for its systemic violations’.
The Israeli police did not respond to specific allegations, but told AFP in an email: ‘We will not allow disturbance of order while harming the fabric of life, inciting to harm police forces and violence against police officers and civilians.’
Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai told Israeli N12 TV on Monday that in Jerusalem in recent days ‘we showed too much restraint’.
‘We are at the stage of taking off the gloves,’ he said.
The group Save the Children, also based in London, said it was ‘horrified’ by the Israeli air strikes and demanded a stop to ‘the indiscriminate targeting and killing of civilians’.
Israeli army spokesman Conricus said Israel ‘was doing everything possible to limit collateral damage’ and he said there was no confirmation Israeli strikes had impacted Gaza civilians.
Diplomatic sources told AFP that Egypt and Qatar, who have mediated past Israeli-Hamas conflicts, were attempting to calm tensions
In perhaps the most serious incident of clashes today, CCTV captured the moment crowds of Palestinians pelted a car driving near Jerusalem’s Old City with rocks before the Israeli driver accelerated on to the pavement – sending people flying.
People continued to pelt the driver after the car came to a halt, suspended on a nearby wall, before a gun-waving police officer arrived. The officer helped the man from the car, before he was again attacked by a pedestrian.
A Palestinian man punches an Israeli security officer amid bitter clashes around Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday
Israeli police arrest a Palestinian man at the Lions’ Gate during Monday’s clashes at Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Palestinian medics evacuate a wounded protester from outside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City during yesterday’s clashes
Israeli police detain a protester near the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque during clashes on Monday
Israeli police confront a Palestinian man near the Lions’ Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday
A car goes up in flames after a rocket launched by Hamas landed in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday
Palestinians mourn during a funeral in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday
Palestinians evacuate following an Israeli air strike on a building in Gaza City on Tuesday
A Palestinian man carries a child away from a tower block during an Israeli bombardment in Gaza
Palestinian families flee from a tower block in Gaza City as Israel carries out further bombardments on Hamas targets
Palestinians mourners carry the bodies of Ameera Soboh and her son, Abed Soboh, during their funeral in the aftermath of Israel’s retaliatory overnight air strike
A Palestinian mother and her son walk next a destroyed Hamas interior ministry site in the aftermath of Israel’s air strike in Tal Al Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza
Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system fires to intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon, southern Israel on Tuesday
Cars go up in flames after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed nearby, in Ashkelon
Mourners carry the body of Amira Soboh, and her 19-year-old disabled son Abdelrahman, who were killed in Israeli airstrikes at their apartment building, during their funeral at the Shati refugee camp, in Gaza City
Palestinian mourners carry the body of 11-year-old Hussain Hamad, who was killed by an explosion in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday
A woman stands next to the rubble of a Hamas interior ministry building in the aftermath of Israel’s air strike in Tal Al Hawa neighborhood in the south of Gaza
Police then cancelled a right-wing Israeli march that was due to pass through the Old City and its Muslim Quarter in an effort to calm tensions.
The fighting has drawn calls for de-escalation from the international community and sharp rebukes from across the Muslim world.
In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration, including President Joe Biden himself, was monitoring the violence.
‘We have serious concerns about the situation, including violent confrontations that we’ve seen over the last few days,’ she told reporters. The U.S. Embassy in Israel said the rocket fire was ‘unacceptable.’
The Israeli military said well over 50 rockets were fired into Israel throughout the evening, most of them aimed at southern Israeli towns near the border.
Lieutenant Colonel Conricus said six rockets were aimed at Jerusalem, some 60 miles (100 kilometers) away. It was believed to be the first rocket attack on the city since a 2014 war.
Shortly after the sirens sounded, explosions could be heard in Jerusalem. One rocket fell on the western outskirts of the city, lightly damaging a home and causing a brush fire. The Israeli army said one rocket was intercepted and the others fell in open areas.
Israel then responded with airstrikes on Hamas targets throughout Gaza.
Seven members of a family, including three children, were killed in a blast in the northern town of Beit Hanoun. It was not immediately clear if the blast was caused by an airstrike or errant rocket.
Israel launched deadly air strikes on Gaza Monday in response to a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas and other Palestinian militants, amid spiralling violence sparked by unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Pictured: Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards the country
At least 20 people were killed, including nine children and a senior Hamas commander, and 65 others wounded, Gaza authorities said
Israel’s army said 150 rockets had been launched from Gaza, dozens of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defence System, with no casualties reported. Pictured: One of the rockets being fired from Gaza City towards Israel
At least three exhaust trails were seen in the skies over Gaza City as explosions were heard, though was not immediately clear whether the rockets hit anything or were shot down
Fighting today saw at least 305 Palestinians hurt, including 205 taken to hospital, five in serious condition. Some 21 police were hurt, including one seriously, the Israeli security services sai
Ashraf al-Masri, a member of the family, said there was an explosion outside the house.
‘We don’t know where it came from,’ he said. ‘We are trying to get the children for burial but the situation is difficult in Beit Hanoun and we are afraid to leave our houses.’
Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, said the attack on Jerusalem was a response to what he called Israeli ‘crimes and aggression’ in the city. ‘This is a message the enemy has to understand well,’ he said.
He threatened more attacks if Israeli forces re-enter the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or carry out planned evictions of Palestinian families from an east Jerusalem neighbourhood.
Fears of further chaos in the Old City had eased somewhat today when Israeli organisers cancelled a march to celebrate the Jewish state’s 1967 capture of east Jerusalem that was due to pass through the Old City.
But then came the Hamas warning, followed shortly after by the rockets.
‘An alarm has just been sounded in Jerusalem. Police forces have begun evacuating hundreds of people’ gathered at the Wailing Wall to safer locations, police said in a brief statement.
A fire billows from Israeli air strikes in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning
A fire rages following an Israeli air strike overnight on the southern Gaza region of Khan Yunis, controlled by the Hamas movement, early on Tuesday
Fire billows from an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas
Hamas, a militant group which controls the Gaza Strip, had earlier issued a 6pm ultimatum for Israel to withdraw security forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in east Jerusalem. The rockets were fired after the deadline lapsed. Pictured: Rockets are seen being fired from Gaza
The Israeli military said it had targeted ‘two rocket launchers, two military posts’, a tunnel and eight Hamas operatives in Gaza
An Israeli military vehicle is seen firing tear gas canisters towards Palestinians during Monday’s protests
An ISraeli police officer walks past burning debris during an anti-Israel protest by Palestinians over tension in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
Israeli border police members take position near burning barricades during the violent protests on Monday evening
The fighting has drawn calls for de-escalation from the international community and sharp rebukes from across the Muslim world
This boy was pictured being treated in hospital after he was injured following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza strip on Monday
Israeli troops are seen during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the city center of the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday
Rescue teams inspect the damage to Palestinian homes in the town of Beit Hanoun caused by Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Twenty Palestinians were killed in a series of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Monday. They were launched after Hamas fired rockets towards Jerusalem
Protesters chant slogans and wave flags outside the Israeli Consulate during a protest against Israel on Monday in Istanbul, Turkey
A Palestinian man pushes a bloody stretcher after wounded residents were treated in hospital following the Israeli airstrikes
Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops at in the city center of the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday evening
Israel’s Lieutenant Colonel Conricus said six rockets were aimed at Jerusalem, some 60 miles (100 kilometers) away. It was believed to be the first rocket attack on the city since a 2014 war. Pictured: A Palestinian protester on Monday
Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus city, in the occupied West Bank
Hamas has fired several rockets towards Israel in recent days, some intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system
Demonstrators light flares during a protest against Israel near the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday
Palestinians burn tires after Israeli police used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to quell violent protests in the Nablus province of the West Bank
Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, said the attack on Jerusalem was a response to what he called Israeli ‘crimes and aggression’ in the city. ‘This is a message the enemy has to understand well,’ he said
Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, above the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, on Monday
A streak of light is seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel
Israelis run for shelter in Jerusalem as bomb sirens sound after Hamas fired rockets from Gaza towards the Jewish state
An Israeli man carries his son towards a bomb shelter in Jerusalem after Hamas launched rockets at Israel from Gaza
Shocking CCTV has revealed the moment Palestinian protesters pelted an Israeli man’s car with rocks during clashes near Jerusalem’s Old City, before he drove into crowds
A gun-waving policeman eventually came to the man’s aid as protesters continued throwing rocks, with hundreds of people injured in violence today
Moments later, the man was involved in a fist-fight with police just inches away amid the worst violence that Jerusalem has seen in recent years
Medics evacuate a protester who was injured near the Lions’ Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City amid fresh violence on the streets today
Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians began during Ramadan, but dramatically escalated at the weekend with fighting around the Al-Aqsa mosque
Paramedics take the injured Palestinians after Israeli police moved into the Temple Mount compound – known to Muslims as Haram esh-Sharif – to clear demonstrators away
On Monday evening, Palestinians continued gathering outside the Al-Aqsa Compound, in East Jerusalem
Israeli Police officers clash with Palestinians at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s old city during Israel’s ‘Jerusalem Day’
Hamas has fired several rockets towards Israel in recent days, some intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, while militants in Gaza have deployed incendiary balloons that have sparked dozens of fires in Israeli territory.
Israel’s army earlier announced widespread road closures in communities near the Gaza border, following a ‘situational assessment’, and two municipalities near Gaza, Ashkelon and Kyriat Malachi, confirmed that they had opened their bomb shelters.
Monday’s clashes mark the fourth straight day of fighting between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in Jerusalem, the most serious period of violence the city has seen since 2017.
Tensions between the two sides had been simmering since mid-April because Israeli forces had restricted access to the Al Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.
But the clashes suddenly escalated on Friday with violence in and around the mosque, which drew more people on to the streets. Protesters have also been angered by a long-running court battle between Jewish settlers and Palestinian homeowners in east Jerusalem, where the Old City is located.
A court that was due to rule on the issue today has postponed the date.
Medical workers evacuate a wounded protester from near the Dome of the Rock, Judaism’s holiest site that sits just next to the Al Aqsa Mosque which has been at the centre of clashes
An injured man is helped to his feet by a passerby inside the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif compound in Jerusalem
Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian protester amid clashes at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City amid some of the worst clashes in the city for years
Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound today
A member of Israeli police aims a weapon during clashes with Palestinians at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque
Israeli riot police are seen forming a shield wall near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City amid violent clashes with Palestinian protesters that have entered their third day
The leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party, Bezalel Smotrich, announced a visit Monday to the tense Sheikh Jarrah district which is at the centre of property disputes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended Israel’s response to the protests and rioting.
‘We will uphold law and order – vigorously and responsibly,’ Netanyahu said while vowing to ‘guard freedom of worship for all faiths’.
Monday’s clashes broke out after Palestinians gathered around the Al-Aqsa Mosque in anticipation of the arrival of the Jerusalem Day march, which is due to end at the nearby Dome of the Rock.
Israeli security forces said demonstrators barricaded themselves inside the mosque, and officers were sent in to clear them out. Rocks were thrown at police, who opened fire with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Witnesses said some of the tear gas grenades landed inside the mosque. The BBC also reported confrontations in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, and near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The scenes around Al-Aqsa Mosque mirror those which took place on Friday and have seen Israeli forces criticised for heavy-handed tactics.
All six Arab nations that have diplomatic ties with Israel – Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan – have condemned the Jewish state.
In Jordan, the custodian of Jerusalem’s holy Islamic and Christian sites, King Abdullah II condemned ‘Israeli violations and escalatory practices at the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque’.
Jordan and Egypt both summoned Israeli envoys on Sunday to lodge protests.
The Middle East quartet of envoys from the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations – and Pope Francis – have all called for calm.
‘Israeli authorities must exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly,’ UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters have been centered around the Asl-Aqsa Mosque. Today, at Lions’ Gate, a car was filmed driving into protesters as they pelted it with rocks. Later today, a Jerusalem Day procession is due to pass through Damascus Gate and through the Muslim quarter of the city, amid fears it will spark more clashes
Israeli police detain a Palestinian man during clashes around the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian man near Jerusalem’s Old City, amid clashes that are the worst to have hit the city since at least 2017
Israeli police stand guard at one of the entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City amid the worst clashes the city has seen since 2017
Paramedics take away an injured Palestinian while Israeli security forces look on amid clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City
Palestinian medics evacuate a wounded protester from the Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, which has seen three days of violence
Palestinians who had gathered near the Al Aqsa Mosque are dispersed by Israeli security forces
Palestinians take cover as Israeli police open fire with tear gas and rubber bullets while medics rush to help the injured
A Palestinian man rushes to get rid of a tear gas grenade amid clashes with Israeli security forces near the Dome of the Rock
Medics treat a wounded man during clashes with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said that over two days, 29 Palestinian children had been injured in east Jerusalem, including a one-year-old.
The unrest of past weeks in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as their future capital, has multiple causes.
Much of the recent violence stems from a long-running legal effort by Jewish settler groups to evict several Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
A lower court ruling earlier this year backing the settlers’ decades-old claim to the plots infuriated Palestinians.
A Supreme Court hearing on a Palestinian appeal had been set for Monday, but the justice ministry said Sunday that in light of ‘all the circumstances’ it would delay the hearing.
Old City shopkeeper Mohammad said Israeli police told him he must close Monday afternoon, when Israeli Jews plan to march with Israeli flags to mark Jerusalem’s ‘reunification’.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem following the 1967 takeover, a move not recognised by most of the international community.
The unrest has spread across the Palestinian territories, including demonstrations and clashes in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has expressed ‘full support for our heroes in Al-Aqsa’.
Hamas Islamists who control the Gaza Strip have also voiced support for the Palestinian protesters and warned Israel of retribution if evictions proceed in Sheikh Jarrah.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh called Sunday for a united Arab and Muslim response against Israel’s ‘provocative desecration of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque’.
Four rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel on Sunday, the army said, as well as incendiary balloons that started 39 fires on Israeli territory, according to the fire services.
The Israeli military said late Sunday that ‘tanks just struck Hamas terror targets in Gaza’, without giving further details.
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City
A member of Israeli security forces runs amid clashes with Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem’s Old City
Israeli police detain a Palestinian during clashes at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount
Medics tend to a wounded Palestinian during clashes with Israeli police at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque
A Palestinian man is confronted by Israeli security forces in Jerusalem’s Old City
An Israeli police officer carries a shattered riot shield through the Temple Mount compound surrounded by rocks following clashes with Palestinian protesters