Hamas fires rockets at Jerusalem in response to 'Israeli aggression'

10 May 2021, 16:44 | Updated: 10 May 2021, 18:55

By Fiona Jones

Hamas has claimed responsibility for a number of rockets that were fired at Jerusalem, branding it a response to Israeli "crimes and aggression."

The rocket attack came minutes after the militant group gave Israel an ultimatum to withdraw forces from two flashpoints in the city.

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas's military wing, said it was a response to what he called Israeli "crimes and aggression" in Jerusalem.

"This is a message the enemy has to understand well," he said.

Read more: Over 200 hospitalised as Israeli police clash with Palestinians

The spokesman threatened more attacks if Israel repeats the invasion of the Al-Aqsa compound or evicts Palestinian families in the neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.

Gaza health officials said nine people, including three children, were killed in an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip.

The cause of the blast was not immediately known.

Elsewhere in Gaza, an Israeli drone strike killed a Palestinian in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas media reported.

The Israeli army said an Israeli civilian in the country's south suffered mild injuries when a vehicle was struck by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza.

Rockets are fired by Hamas from Gaza City towards Israel
Rockets are fired by Hamas from Gaza City towards Israel. Picture: PA

Shortly after air raid sirens sounded, explosions could be heard in Jerusalem on Monday evening.

The Israeli army said there was an initial burst of seven rockets, one was intercepted, and rocket fire was continuing.

There have been no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The attack drastically escalated already heightened tensions throughout the region following weeks of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in Jerusalem.

Hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli police at a flashpoint religious site in the contested holy city.

Medics treat a wounded man during clashes
Medics treat a wounded man during clashes. Picture: PA

Earlier, Israeli police firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians at the compound.

More than a dozen tear gas canisters and stun grenades landed in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites, as police and protesters faced off inside the walled compound that surrounds it, according to reports.

Smoke rose in front of the mosque and the famous golden-domed shrine on the site, and rocks littered the nearby plaza.

Inside one area of the compound, shoes and debris lay scattered over ornate carpets.

More than 305 Palestinians were hurt, including 228 who went to hospitals and clinics for treatment, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Seven of the injured were in serious condition.

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Picture: PA

Police said 21 officers were hurt, including three who were admitted to hospital.

Israeli paramedics said seven Israeli civilians were also hurt.

The confrontation was the latest after weeks of mounting tensions between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the Old City of Jerusalem, the emotional centre of their conflict.

There have been almost nightly clashes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, already a time of heightened religious sensitivities.

Most recently, the tensions have been fuelled by the planned eviction of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of east Jerusalem where Israeli settlers have waged a lengthy legal battle to take over properties.

Monday was expected to be particularly tense since Israelis mark it as Jerusalem Day to celebrate their capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.