Israel Edges Closer to War; Hamas Fires 160 Rockets, 20 Killed in IDF's Gaza Raids

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The Israel-Palestine conflict escalated on Monday as 20 Palestinians reportedly died in Israeli air raids after Hamas fired as many as 160 rockets into various parts of Israel.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 65 others were wounded in air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip. The dead included 9 children, the Palestinian authorities said.

The Israeli retaliation unfolded after Hamas sent a deluge of rockets towards Jerusalem and southern Israel even as thousands of Israelis paraded to celebrate Jerusalem Day.

Hamas Fighters
Hamas Fighters Wikimedia Commons

Israel said the IDF's air raid in Gaza killed at least 8 Hamas militants. The Israeli Defence Forces said the air strikes targeted Hamas rocket launchers and military positions.

According to the JPost, the IDF warned Hamas that it would go for an all-out offensive including a ground operation.

Hamas' Anti-Tank Guided Missile Hits Civilian Vehicle

Israel said an anti-tank guided missile launched by Hamas hit civilian vehicle near Sderot. One civilian sustained mild injuries in the attack. JPost said Palestinian Islamic Jihad had fired the anti tank guided missile.

The rocket attacks towards Jerusalem and Gaza border 'won't go by quietly," said IDF spokesperson Brigadier General Hidai Zilberman. "Hamas will feel our response to this will not last several minutes, but days ... If Hamas doesn't understand it yet, they will understand after what we do. We have a number of options on the table," Zilberman said.

Israel Says Hamas Rockets May Have Killed Children

Meanwhile, IDF has said it is not clear how the children died in Beit Hanoun. The Israeli air force said if was unclear if the deaths were caused by an airstrike or the malfunctioning of rocket launched from Gaza.

Netanyahu Warns of Tough Response

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had crossed a "red line" by launching scores of rockets into Israel and that Tel Aviv was ready to undertake an open-ended operation against the militant outfit controlling Gaza strip. "Whoever attacks us will pay a heavy price," Netanyahu said.

Rocket Fire from Gaza
Rocket Fire from Gaza Wikimedia Commons

Responding to Netanyahu, Hamas said the attack on Jerusalem was in retaliation for Israeli 'crimes and aggression' in the city. "This is a message the enemy has to understand well," Hamas military wing spokesman Abu Obeida said. according to Al Jazeera.

More than 300 Palestinians sustained injuries in the Al Aqsa clashes, while Israel' defence ministry said 21 officers were injured.

East Jerusalem is on a boiling point as Hamas has threatened that any more Israeli raids on Al Aqsa will lead to more rocket attacks.

What Led to Escalation?

Tension has been brewing in east Jerusalem as Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police outside the Old City even as Muslims prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Islam's holy night of Laylat al-Qadr. The clashes were an offshoot of the ongoing conflict over the eviction of six Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. An East Jerusalem court had ordered the eviction and the families were ordered to leave Sheikh Jarrah by August 1.

What is Sheikh Jarrah Conflict?

Israel conquered Sheikh Jarrah in 1967 but the annexation was not recognized by the international community. Since 1956, as many as 37 Palestinian families had settled down in Sheikh Jarrah.

But increasing Jewish settlements in the region since 1970 altered the dynamics of the region. A law was passed by the Israeli parliament that allowed Jews to reclaim East Jerusalem land owned by Jews before 1948.

Seventy years ago, the disputed land of Sheikh Jarrah was vacant. Palestinians had started settling down in this land after Israel's 1948 War of Independence. After the war, Palestinian Arab neighborhoods in the city's south and east came under the control of Jordan.

In the 1950s an agreement was signed by Jordan, the United Nations, and 28 refugee families. Accordingly, the Jordanian government provided the land and the United Nations offered cash to build the homes for 28 refugee families.

Palestinians claim that the terms of the agreement states that tenants must pay a symbolic fee for the first few years and then they will become owners of the property. Thus, they will not be called refugees and will not receive any benefits from the UN Relief and Works Agency.

But the Jordanian government did not formally transfer the ownership of the land to the Palestinians. This has made them vulnerable against Israel, which claims to have occupied the land from Jordan in 1967.

Association for Human Rights in Israel states that around 358,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem. In this land, Palestinians have residency rights but they are not considered citizens of Israel. Palestinians claim that this land is the the capital of a future Palestinian state.

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