The IDF responds to over 200 rockets launched from Gaza into Israel.

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Because of the continuing clashes in Jerusalem, Hamas had warned Israel earlier in the day that it would launch missiles, and seven rockets were launched at the capital shortly after 6 p.m.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, said on Monday night that “Jerusalem has made a request, and Gaza has answered. We will continue to protest as long as Israel continues its violence and terrorism in Jerusalem and at the al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Around midnight on Monday night, a Hamas spokesman threatened to launch a large-scale attack on Israel if police forces do not evacuate from the Temple Mount compound before 2 a.m..

Palestinian Islamic Jihad releases footage of a ATGM strike on a civilian vehicle

The spokesman said around two hours later that the terror group had suspended the planned large-scale attack on Israel, claiming that Israeli police responded to the ultimatum.

Israel Police has not yet confirmed that forces have left the compound, or if such a move happened in response to the ultimatum set by Hamas.

One rocket struck an empty house in a community near Jerusalem. Dozens of rockets were also fired towards Sderot, Ashkelon and neighboring communities as well.

Another rocket hit a house in Nir Am, in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, shortly after midnight on Monday night. No injuries were reported.

On Tuesday morning, around 6 a.m., a wave of rockets hit two residences in Ashkelon. One rocket hit a family home, moderately injuring the parents and lightly injuring the children. The rocket which hit the second home lightly injured two people. All six were evacuated to Barzilay Medical Center in Ashkelon.

One of the Ashkelon residences hit in the Tuesday morning wave of rockets (Credit: Magen David Adom)

Abu Ubaidah, the spokesman of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, announced that Hamas was behind the rocket barrages towards Ashkelon on Tuesday morning, warning that if civilian homes were attacked in Gaza, Hamas would “make Ashkelon hell.”

 

Another Ashkelon home which was hit by the Tuesday morning wave of rockets. (Credit Ashkelon News)

An anti-tank guided missile also hit a commercial vehicle outside Sderot, injuring the pilot, who was just a few metres away. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Another rocket landed near a residential area in Sderot, igniting a fire. Firefighters are now attempting to put out the flames. There were no confirmed injuries.

According to sources, the ATGM was shot by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In May 2019, the party opened fire on another civilian truck, killing Moshe Feder, 64, of Kfar Saba.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said that the combined rocket attacks towards Jerusalem, Gaza border communities and the anti-tank guided missile that hit a civilian vehicle “is a significant event that won’t go by quietly.”

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According to Zilberman, “Hamas will feel our response to this event…it will not last several minutes, but days.”

Calling it an “inexcusable event,” Zilberman warned that “If Hamas doesn’t understand it yet, they will understand after what we do. We have a number of options on the table.”

Following a security assessment and cabinet discussion regarding the rocket fire, Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared a special situation on the home front within a range of 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip for the next 48 hours. The cities of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Bnei Brak, Givatayin and Ramat Gan all opened their public bomb shelters.

The Home Front Command issued new directives for the Dan and Shfela regions, with residents able to meet in open areas in groups of 30 and in closed areas in groups of 50. Buildings operating on the Green Pass system can have 300 people. Workplaces and schools can continue to function as long as there is a shelter nearby.

Residents in the southern Shfela region, the Merkaz Hanegev region, the Lachish region, the Maarav Negev region, the Maarav Lachish region and the Gaza border communities are able to gather up to 10 people in open area and up to 50 people in closed buildings. Buildings functioning on the Green Pass system can have up to 100 people in them. Workplaces can continue to function as long as there is a shelter nearby. School and non-formal education in these areas has been canceled.

The municipalities of Rishon Lezion, Holon, Bat Yam, Rehovot, Lod and Ness Ziona have also decided to cancel studies for Tuesday. The Givatayim Municipality announced that they would update parents regarding the school situation by 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rocket fire saying that it was “in response to [Israeli] crimes and aggression against the holy city and harassment of our people in Sheikh Jarrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and this is a message that the enemy should understand well.”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhaleh said late on Monday night that “Israel started the aggression against Jerusalem. If this aggression is not stopped – then there is no point in the political efforts to reach a ceasefire.”

The defence establishment was concerned about missile fire aimed at Israel, especially the country’s middle. Following the existing tensions in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, the IDF sent reinforcements, closed roads, and postponed its biggest drill in history earlier on Monday.

Following the rocket fire, the Ashkelon Municipality and Kiryat Malachi declared the opening of bomb shelters in the area, despite receiving no official order from Home Front Command to do so.

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On Monday evening, Barzilay Medical Center in Ashkelon began planning to relocate patients and medical personnel to their emergency underground hospital.

The IDF closed a number of roads near the Gaza border and instructed farmers to stop all work near the border on Monday afternoon. Additionally, train traffic between Ashkelon and Beersheba and to Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim was temporarily halted on Monday afternoon after orders by security officials.

The Shaar Hanegev Regional Council announced that it would be cancelling all extracurricular activities in the council.

Later on Monday the Homefront Command ordered schools to close and limit gatherings to 10 people outdoors within 20 kilometers of the Strip. Businesses are only allowed to open if they have bomb shelters that are easily reachable.

An IDF drill, known as “Chariots of Fire,” which was meant to be the military’s largest exercise and would have involved all units of the IDF was postponed. Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered the IDF to focus its efforts on preparation and readiness for the possible scenarios of escalating [violence],” the military said in a statement.

The military has also sent reinforcements from the elite Maglan commando unit and two training companies from the IDF Officer’s School to the Gaza Division.

On Monday afternoon Abu Ubaida warned that the terrorist groups in Gaza were giving Israel until 6 p.m. to withdraw security forces from the Temple Mount and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and to release all those detained in the recent clashes.

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gantz were briefed on the current security situation by senior security officials including IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the head of the Shin Bet Nadav Argaman, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana and others.

Around 6.20 a.m. on Monday, three missiles were fired at the college town of Sderot and surrounding towns, with at least one successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system. There have been no cases of casualties or property loss.

Following the rocket attack, Maj.-Gen. Rassan Alian, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), declared the complete closing of the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings until further notice, except in humanitarian and special situations.

The action comes in reaction to yesterday’s decision to close the fishing zone, as well as the continued launch of rockets and incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip.

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“The Hamas terrorist organization is accountable for all that is done in and from the Gaza Strip toward the State of Israel, and it will therefore bear the consequences for the violence committed against the country’s citizens,” COGAT said in a statement.

Terror groups in Gaza threatened to escalate their attacks in response. On Monday some 10 fires were sparked in the south by incendiary aerial devices.

Alian said in a message posted on COGAT’s Facebook page that “Israel would not tolerate any disruption of protection, law and order, or security stability. The policy should not be dominated by crime and extremism, but by the economic and social well-being of the residents.”

Alian echoed earlier remarks that Israel is “committed” to allowing freedom of worship in Jerusalem but will not tolerate abuse or violations of law and order. He stated that there is a distinction between religious freedom and “unbridled” abuse and extremism.

“Some of the participants believe sincerely that they are protecting the holy sites. But in fact, they are defiling them during the blessed month of Ramadan and on Qadr Night (Laylat al-Qadr). The participants are being cynically incited and exploited by those who are trying to escalate and inflame the situation, using violent and inciteful rhetoric on social and mainstream media,” he said.

“I must remind you that while the coronavirus is not yet behind us and its economic ramifications are still felt in almost every Palestinian home, there are those who are already sabotaging attempts at returning to normal life. Let it be clear that there will be difficulty in advancing any civilian measures taken to ease restrictions, as long as the violence persists. It is not violence and terrorism that should be dominating the agenda, but the economic and social welfare of the residents,” he continued, adding “let us give the holiday its proper respect. Let us keep the peace and celebrate, rather than battle. Let us pray and sanctify these special days rather than allowing inciters to dominate us and wreak violence.”

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