Over this past week, the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and Hamas, Gaza’s terrorist regime, have traded hundreds of blows, firing missiles at a level not seen since 2014. The violence stemmed from this past weekend, when Israeli police responded to Palestinian protests at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque over forced evictions of Palestinian families in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neigborhood. Though Israeli police attempted to exercise restraint using rubber-bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades, nearly 300 Palestinians have been injured in the clashes so far. Muslim countries around the world condemed Israel’s actions and the US has expressed serious concerns over the legality of situation in Sheikh Jarrah.
Yesterday, Hamas leadership in Gaza demanded that Israel remove its police from the Al-Aqsa with a 6 p.m. deadline. Israeli police officials in response altered the path of the Jerusalem Day Celebration Parade to keep away from Palestinian protesters near the Damascus Gate. Despite the efforts to de-escalate the situation, as the 6 p.m. deadline expired Hamas began firing rockets at civilian areas in Jerusalem for the first time since 2014, a move that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called “crossing a red line”. The IDF in response fired missiles at several Hamas outposts within Gaza. “Israel will respond very forcefully. “We will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers. Whoever strikes us will pay a heavy price,” Netanyahu stated.
About 630 rockets have been fired at residents in Israeli cities including Ashkelon, Ashdod, Jerusalem, and Tel-Aviv. Though some casualties have unfortunately been reported in Israel, about 200 missiles have been intercepted by Israel’s computerized missile defense system, the Iron Dome. As for Gaza, it’s been reported that there were children among the 28 casualties tragically killed by Israeli rocket strikes. The IDF however issued a conflicting report stating that 150 of the rockets launched by Hamas fell short in Gazan territory which caused civilian casualties. Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization, and a UN report has found in the past that the organization has used kindergartens and hospitals as human shields to prevent Israeli counterattacks. Regardless of either side’s case, U.S. secretary of state Anthony Blinken called on both sides to cease-fire issuing this statement, “We’re very focused on the situation in Israel, West Bank, Gaza, very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks that we’re seeing now, that they need to stop, they need to stop immediately.”