Islamic Jihad group fires rockets into Jerusalem on third day of conflict

Palestinian militants fired rockets into Jerusalem on Sunday, causing no casualties but signaling new scope and resolve as Israel pressed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and admitted Jewish visitors to a disputed mosque.

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The Islamic Jihad faction said it was targeting Jerusalem in retaliation for Israel’s overnight killing of Khaled Mansour, its commander in southern Gaza. “The blood of martyrs will not be wasted,” he said.

About 30 Palestinians, at least a third of them civilians, were killed in Gaza fighting that erupted on Friday, as salvoes of rockets paralyzed much of southern Israel and sent residents of towns like Tel Aviv and Ashkelon in shelters.

Casualties on the Israeli side were avoided thanks to the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which, according to an army spokesman, had a 97 percent success rate in shooting down the rockets.

The outbreak worried world powers and prompted Egypt to mediate a ceasefire. But he was restrained by the fact that Hamas, the ruling group in the impoverished and blockaded Gaza Strip since 2007, held fire.

Palestinians stunned by a new wave of bloodshed – after the outbreaks of war in 2008-09, 2012, 2014 and last year – searched the ruins of houses to recover furniture or documents.

“Who wants a war? Nobody. But we also don’t like to remain silent when women, children and leaders are killed,” said a Gaza taxi driver who identified himself only as Abu Mohammad.

“An eye for an eye.”

Israel said it would stop shooting if Islamic Jihad did. “Calm will be answered by calm,” a military spokesman said.

The booms of rocket interceptions flying over towns about 5 kilometers (2 miles) west of Jerusalem could be heard in the city as Jews fasted at an annual commemoration of two ancient temples.

The site where these shrines once stood is now the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site and an icon of Palestinian nationalism, in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

Dozens of Jews visited the compound under police guard on Sunday. The planned visits are an affront to the Palestinians.

Video released online showed Jews trying to pray in defiance of Israeli regulations, as police moved in to arrest them and Muslim worshipers shouted in protest. Clashes at the site helped spark a May 2021 war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel launched Friday’s strikes in what it described as prevention of an Islamic Jihad attack intended to avenge the arrest of a group leader in the occupied West Bank. Roundups of arrests against the group continued in this territory.

The hundreds of rockets fired by Islamic Jihad in response are the reason for the continued operation, according to Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Saar, a member of the decision-making security cabinet.

Asked on Israeli army radio whether the end might be near, he replied: “I hope so, but I don’t want to pin excessive hopes on that. To the extent that Islamic Jihad wants to prolong this operation, it will regret it.

Read more:

UAE calls for de-escalation in Gaza Strip

Palestinian Islamic Jihad group confirms killing of senior commander in Gaza

Saudi Arabia condemns Israeli attack on Gaza Strip (foreign ministry statement)

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