Following heightened tensions between law enforcement officials in Jerusalem and Palestinian civilians, Israel conducted air strikes in Gaza, killing at least 22 Palestinians, including nine children.
Israel, on the other side, said it had hit 130 “military targets” in Gaza and killed 15 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members.
We have struck 130 military targets belonging mostly to Hamas,” the Islamist group that controls the blockaded Gaza strip, Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters.
“According to our current estimates we have killed 15 Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives,” he said.
Since unarmed Palestinians praying in the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound is targeted by Israeli police, hundreds of Palestinians have been severely wounded.
Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said Israel could not confirm or refute that its attacks in Gaza had resulted in civilian casualties.
He informed reporters that so far, arms production and storage centers, training grounds, and military bases in Gaza have been attacked.
“Our counter-offensive is in its early stages… It will proceed.”
Tensions have risen in Jerusalem after Israeli riot police assaulted Palestinian worshipers on the last Friday of Ramadan, the Muslim holy fasting month, in the city’s worst unrest since 2017.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured in nightly protests at the Al-Aqsa complex since then, prompting foreign demands for de-escalation and harsh condemnation from the Muslim community.
In the meantime, Palestinians in the city have staged a number of sit-ins in recent days, protesting Israeli orders for them to leave their houses. Israeli security forces used skunk water, tear gas, rubber-coated explosives, and concussion bombs to target the sit-ins. A large number of Palestinians have been arrested.
During the holy month of Ramzan, violence exploded on Friday as Israeli police mobilised heavily as Muslims performed evening prayers at Al-Aqsa.
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Egypt and Qatar, who have already mediated Israeli-Hamas disputes, are seeking to defuse tensions.