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Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after Hamas rocket attacks

  • Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after Hamas rocket attacks
    Gaza health ministry says nine Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes after Palestinian groups fired rockets into Israel Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza Strip after Hamas rocket attacks
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Gaza health ministry says nine Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes after Palestinian groups fired rockets into Israel

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians escalated dramatically on Monday as militant groups in Gaza fired rockets into Israel and Israel responded with strikes on the Palestinian coastal territory following a police raid on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem that left hundreds injured.

The rocket attacks were launched just minutes after the passing of a Hamas-issued ultimatum for Israel to withdraw security forces from both the Jerusalem compound that is home to the al-Aqsa mosque and the Old City’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

The two locations have been the scene of increasingly violent confrontations in recent days between Israeli security forces and Palestinians that have drawn mounting international concern.

Anger had been growing for weeks among Palestinians before a now-delayed Israeli court ruling on whether authorities were able to evict dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and give their homes to Jewish settlers.

Jerusalem residents reported hearing air raid sirens shortly after 6pm local time, when the ultimatum was due to expire, and the sound of explosions.

Sirens were also reported near the coastal city of Ashkelon and in other areas close to the Gaza border. The Israeli army said there was an initial burst of seven rockets, one was intercepted, and rocket fire was continuing in southern Israel.

The Gaza health ministry said 20 Palestinians, including nine children, were killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Palestinian territory after the barrages against Israel. An Israeli military spokesperson said it had started to attack Hamas military targets in Gaza.