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World

Twenty killed as Israel strikes Gaza after Hamas rocket barrage

  • Israel seized east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognised by most of the international community.
11 May 2021

JERUSALEM: Israel launched deadly air strikes on Gaza Monday in response to a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas and other Palestinian, amid spiralling violence sparked by unrest at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

At least 20 people were killed, including nine children and a senior Hamas commander, and 65 others wounded, Gaza authorities said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Hamas had crossed a "red line" by directing missiles towards Jerusalem and that the Jewish state would "respond with force".

"We will not tolerate attacks on our territory, our capital, our citizens and our soldiers. Those who attack us will pay a heavy price," said Netanyahu, who held meetings with the heads of the army and the Shin Bet security agency.

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.

The military said it had targeted "two rocket launchers, two military posts", a tunnel and eight Hamas operatives in Gaza.

Hamas sources confirmed to AFP that one of their commanders, Mohammed Fayyad, had been killed.

Tensions in Jerusalem have flared since Israeli riot police clashed with Palestinian worshippers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan in the city's worst disturbances since 2017.

Nightly unrest since then at the Al-Aqsa compound in annexed east Jerusalem has left hundreds of Palestinians wounded, drawing international calls for de-escalation and sharp rebukes from across the Muslim world.

Israel seized east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move not recognised by most of the international community.

Diplomatic sources told AFP that Egypt and Qatar, who have mediated past Israeli-Hamas conflicts, were attempting to calm tensions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas, saying they "need to stop immediately".

"All sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions, take practical steps to calm things down," he said.