Israel under attack: Rockets rain from Gaza as Hamas declares war

Israel faces unprecedented barrage of rockets from Gaza

Israel is facing an unprecedented barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as the Islamist militant group Hamas declared a full-scale war on the Jewish state. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), more than 1,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Monday evening, targeting cities and towns across Israel, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, and Ashkelon.

The rocket attacks have killed at least 20 Israelis, including three children, and injured hundreds more. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, but some managed to hit residential buildings, cars, buses, and even a school. The IDF said it was the most intense rocket fire ever seen in Israel’s history.

The rocket attacks were triggered by escalating tensions in Jerusalem, where Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police over the planned evictions of some Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during Ramadan. On Monday, Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel to withdraw its forces from the holy site and Sheikh Jarrah by 6 p.m., or face a “heavy response”.

When the deadline passed, Hamas launched a barrage of rockets toward Jerusalem, some of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome. The IDF responded by launching airstrikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, killing at least 65 Palestinians, including 16 children. The IDF said it targeted Hamas operatives, rocket launchers, tunnels, and military infrastructure.

Israel under attack: Rockets rain from Gaza as Hamas declares war

Hamas terror commander calls for all-out war on Israel

The leader of Hamas’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, issued a rare public statement on Tuesday night, calling for an all-out war on Israel. Deif, who has survived several assassination attempts by Israel and is considered one of its most wanted enemies, said that Hamas was “ready for the confrontation” and that “this battle will be the prelude to liberating Jerusalem and all of Palestine”.

Deif also warned Israel that if it continued its “aggression” on Gaza, it would face “a new equation” that would change the balance of power in the region. He said that Hamas had developed new weapons and capabilities that would surprise Israel and inflict heavy losses on it. He also praised Iran for its support and assistance to Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

Deif’s statement was broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV channel and was accompanied by footage of rockets being fired from Gaza. It was seen as a sign of defiance and determination by Hamas, which has vowed to continue its attacks until Israel stops its actions in Jerusalem and lifts its blockade on Gaza.

Israel vows to restore deterrence and security

Israel has vowed to restore its deterrence and security in the face of the unprecedented rocket attacks from Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was “in the midst of a major campaign” and that it would “continue to strike with full force” until Hamas and Islamic Jihad “pay a very heavy price for their aggression”.

Netanyahu also said that Israel was prepared for any scenario, including a ground invasion of Gaza if necessary. He said that Israel had the full support of the United States and other countries for its right to self-defense. He also thanked President Joe Biden for his “unreserved backing” and his “clear message” against terror.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel had “many targets” in Gaza and that it would not stop until it achieved its goals. He said that Israel’s objective was to “restore long-term quiet and security” for its citizens. He also said that Israel was doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza, but that Hamas was using them as human shields.

Gantz also said that Israel was ready to cooperate with any regional or international efforts to end the violence, but that it would not accept any conditions or limitations on its actions. He said that Israel would not tolerate any attacks on its sovereignty or territory, whether from Gaza or any other front.

International community calls for de-escalation and dialogue

The international community has expressed its concern and alarm over the escalating violence between Israel and Gaza, and called for an immediate de-escalation and dialogue. The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation, but failed to issue a joint statement due to disagreements among its members.

The United States said that it was working behind the scenes to restore calm and prevent further escalation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he had spoken with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as other regional partners, to urge them to end the violence and resume negotiations. He also reiterated the US commitment to Israel’s security and its support for a two-state solution.

The European Union said that it was “appalled” by the rocket attacks from Gaza and condemned them in the strongest terms. It also called on Israel to act proportionately and avoid civilian casualties. It said that the status quo of Jerusalem was a key element for peace and stability in the region, and that any unilateral actions that undermine it should be avoided.

The Arab League said that it held Israel fully responsible for the escalation and the consequences of its actions. It also called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the protection of the Palestinian people. It said that it would hold an urgent meeting on Thursday to discuss the situation and take the necessary measures.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation said that it strongly condemned Israel’s “barbaric attacks” on Gaza and Jerusalem, and called for an international intervention to stop them. It also called for the activation of the International Criminal Court to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

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