Israel launched its first airstrike on the Gaza Strip in months early Tuesday in response to a missile fired from the Palestinian territory as tensions rise after a weekend of violence surrounding a Jerusalem holy site.
The Israeli air force said it had hit a weapons manufacturing site belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian group which administrates the coastal enclave. As per the Palestinian Health Ministry, no casualties or injuries have been reported.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades – the armed branch of Hamas – said they retaliated with surface-to-air missiles.
“Our air defence responded to Zionist warplanes in the skies of the Gaza Strip with surface-to-air missiles at exactly 01:35 local time (10:35 GMT) Tuesday morning,” it stated.
Hamas had warned that any incidents at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site revered by Muslims and Jews, would be a “red line” after Israeli forces raided the site in occupied East Jerusalem numerous times in recent days, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and leaving dozens injured.
Palestinians accuse Israel of encroaching at Al-Aqsa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Egypt and Jordan have also condemned Israeli forces’ actions at the site. Jordan’s King Abdullah II mentioned that Israel’s “unilateral” moves against Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque seriously undermined the prospects for peace in the region.
While talking to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he said that Israel was undertaking “provocative acts” in the mosque compound that violated “the legal and historic status quo” of the holy shrines.
At least 152 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Friday. The Islamic endowment that runs the site stated that the Israeli police entered in force before dawn on Friday, as thousands of worshippers were gathered at the mosque for pre-dawn prayers. It is the latest incident in a wave of violence that has sparked fears of a return to wider conflict.