Tel Aviv: Israel shot down a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip and carried out an airstrike overnight in retaliation, days after clashes and attacks that have raised the spectre of wider confrontation.
The rocket fire follows clashes after Israeli police entered Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem last week, saying they needed to quell riots as Palestinians gathered for Ramadan prayers. Similar events preceded Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza less than a year ago.
The army said late Monday it was the first rocket launched towards Israel from Gaza since September, and that the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted it. Palestinian militant groups threatened further violence should Israel continue to take actions on Al Aqsa, but no group took responsibility for the rocket fire.
The clashes at Al Aqsa, known to the Jews as the Temple Mount and to the Muslims as Haram Al Sharif, often lead to wider conflict and hostility towards Israel. They follow four attacks in Israeli cities since March that left fourteen people dead.
Arab governments condemned police actions at Al Aqsa. Jordan summoned Israel’s deputy chief of mission in Amman, Israel’s foreign ministry said.
Both Israel’s foreign ministry and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued statements in response. “Here’s the truth:
“We are deeply concerned by the recent violence in Jerusalem,” Ned Price, the US State Department spokesman, said in a press briefing on Monday. The US continues “to call on all sides to exercise restraint, to avoid provocative actions and rhetoric and preserve the historic status quo on the Temple Mount,” he said.
In the past few weeks, 25 Palestinians have died in clashes with Israeli forces or as they carried out - or attempted to carry out - attacks. Palestinian authorities have said some were innocent bystanders.