Israeli army says rocket fired from besieged Gaza Strip was intercepted as tensions soar over Israeli raids on a holy site in occupied East Jerusalem.
A rocket fired from the besieged Gaza Strip into southern Israel has been intercepted, Israel’s army has said, in the first such attack in months amid soaring tensions over a flashpoint holy site in occupied East Jerusalem.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage on Monday and no Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rocket, which Israel said was shot down by its Iron Dome interceptor.
Hamas, the Palestinian group that administers the coastal enclave, had warned that any incidents at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound would be a “red line” after Israeli forces raided the site in East Jerusalem several 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. Israel says Palestinian protesters seek to disrupt Muslim prayer for political ends and to prevent visits by Jews, who are celebrating Passover.
The site is revered by Muslims and Jews. Israeli police have said they were committed to ensuring that members of all faiths could celebrate the holidays safely.
Prior to the rocket attack, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Hamas of waging a “wild harassment campaign” against Israel.
Egypt and Jordan, which inked peace agreements with Israel decades ago and coordinate with it on security matters, have condemned the actions of Israeli forces at the site.
Jordan — which serves as custodian of the site — summoned Israel’s deputy charge d’affaires to Amman on Monday in protest.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Monday that Israel’s “unilateral” moves against Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque seriously undermined the prospects for peace in the region, according to state media.
The monarch was speaking with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he made remarks blaming Israel for “provocative acts” in the mosque compound that violated “the legal and historic status quo” of the holy shrines.
On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli police inside the mosque compound, the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.
Crackdowns by Israeli forces on protesters who were demonstrating against attempts to forcibly expel Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah last year were a trigger for an escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas fighters in Gaza.
Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh on Monday offered praise for members of the Islamic Waqf, the trust that oversees the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, “who stands tall and those who throw rocks at the pro-Zionists who are defiling Al-Aqsa Mosque while under the security of the Israeli occupation government.”
In response to al-Khasawneh’s remarks, Bennett said: “This is unacceptable to us. This is a reward for the inciters, especially Hamas, which are trying to ignite violence in Jerusalem.”
Israel has sought to improve relations with Jordan over the past year and has recently normalised relations with other Arab states over their shared concerns about Iran.
But a recent wave of violence that left 25 Palestinians and 14 Israelis dead has brought renewed attention to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which it has sought to sideline in recent years.