Israel’s onslaught on Gaza kills at least 24 as West Bank violence simmers

At least 24 Palestinian killed in Gaza, most of them in Israeli strikes overnight, with over 700 wounded in raids by Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem and across occupied West Bank since the start of recent unrest.

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Israel's onslaught on Gaza kills at least 24 as West Bank violence simmers www.africanpolicy.com

At least 24 Palestinians, including nine children, have been killed in blockaded Gaza, most of them in Israeli strikes, with more than 700 wounded in raids by Israeli forces in Jerusalem and across the occupied West Bank in the past 24 hours.

Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza early on Tuesday as Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza announced the launch of Operation Al Quds Sword amid continued Israeli escalation of recent hostilities against Palestinians and around the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The Israeli army announced the launch of Operation Guardian of the Walls late Monday against Gaza. It said that an air attack was carried out on Gaza and many rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

Since sundown Monday when the cross-border fighting erupted, 24 Palestinians – including nine children – were killed in Gaza, most by airstrikes, Gaza health officials said. The Israeli military claimed 15 of the dead were militants.

More than 700 Palestinians were hurt inaction taken by Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and across the West Bank in the past 24 hours, including nearly 500 who were treated at hospitals.

The Israeli military said six Israeli civilians were hurt by rocket fire Tuesday morning.

By Tuesday morning, Hamas and other Gaza resistance fighters had fired more than 200 rockets.

It set off air raid sirens throughout Jerusalem, and explosions could be heard in what was believed to be the first time the city had been hit since a 2014 war.

In a statement issued early Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the rocket attacks would continue until Israel stops “all scenes of terrorism and aggression in Jerusalem and Al Aqsa mosque.

“As a part of operations, a military armoured vehicle belonging to the occupying forces in northern Gaza was hit and a rocket attack was carried out on Jerusalem,” the Joint Chamber of Military Operations for Palestinian Factions said in a statement on Tuesday.

The intensive rocket fire was launched at enemy positions around Tel Aviv and the occupied territories, it said.

“We have accumulated our military experience in a bid to defend our people, whom we will never abandon. Our weapon is the weapon of all our people,” read the statement.

“The time when the coward enemy can attack Al Aqsa [Mosque] and Al Quds without being held accountable is over.” Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

Forced expulsions

In recent weeks, tension has been soaring in Jerusalem, marked by Israeli police using excessive force against Palestinian protesters in the walled Old City, located in occupied East Jerusalem which Israel captured and annexed in the 1967 war.

One of the flashpoints in the Old City has been the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site of Islam and the holiest site of Judaism.

Another driver of Palestinian anger has been the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from homes in an East Jerusalem neighbourhood by Israeli settlers.

Last week, Israeli settlers swarmed in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem after an Israeli court ordered the eviction of Palestinian families who have been living in the area for generations.

Palestinians protesting in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah have been targeted by Israeli forces.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed the entire city in 1980 – a move that has never been recognised by the international community.

Gaza’s main border crossings closed 

Israel closed the Karem Abu Salem crossing, Gaza’s main commercial trade route, early on Tuesday to all entries except humanitarian aid and fuel oil.

The decision was taken to close the crossing between Israel and Gaza immediately until a second order is issued, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) affiliated with the Israeli Defence Ministry said in a statement.

There are concerns that the closure of Gaza’s main commercial trade route will cause serious humanitarian problems in Gaza, where more than 2 million people have been under blockade for 14 years.

Also, on Monday, Israel announced that it had closed off the Beit Hanoun border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip until further notice.

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