This week witnessed the first Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since the May truce struck with Hamas after 11 days of fighting and exchange of thousands of rockets and airstrikes. The past days have witnessed incendiary balloons sent from Hamas to southern Israel, for which Tel Aviv has responded by ordering limited airstrikes on the strip.
Al Jazeera reports that the potential for full-blown war is once again on the horizon:
The Israeli military said its aircraft attacked Hamas compounds in Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Younis and said it was “ready for all scenarios, including renewed fighting in the face of continued terrorist acts emanating from Gaza”.
The raids, the military said, came in response to the launching of the balloons, which caused 20 blazes in open fields in communities near Gaza.
For multiple consecutive weekends fighting has also broken out on the Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque complex, particularly after far-right Jewish groups are holding renewed marches through the old city area centered on Damascus Gate.
Multiple social media videos on Friday confirmed new clashes between Palestinians and police as security forces move in on Al-Aqsa.
Clashes centering on Aqsa and East Jerusalem neighborhoods where Palestinian families are being evicted were central to the initial major round of Israel-Hamas fighting in May, which took over 230 Palestinian lives and a handful of Israelis killed by Hamas rockets.
Clashes reported on the Temple Mount between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers. pic.twitter.com/uhs8WKVBMZ
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) June 18, 2021
As hostilities mount on Friday, at least nine Palestinians have been wounded as Israeli police once again try to disperse the Palestinian crowds:
Nine Palestinians were wounded in clashes with police in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount as hundreds of Muslim worshipers attended Friday’s prayers.
Three Palestinians were later taken to the hospital to receive medical attention.
According to the police, riots erupted when the worshipers exited the Temple Mount compound via The Chain Gate. They hurled stones at police officers, who responded with firing sponge-tipped bullets.
Hamas has since last month warned multiple times it’s ready to unleash more rocket fire if Israeli authorities don’t allow Palestinians freedom of movement and of worship in Jerusalem’s old city.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) June 18, 2021
Since Tuesday thousands of Jewish nationalists have also provoked tensions by packing Palestinian neighborhoods and sections of the old city.
Thousands of Jewish settlers chant “death to Arabs” and “may their villages burn” in occupied Jerusalem today pic.twitter.com/FV9O9xth18
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) June 15, 2021
Answering this, on Friday Arab protesters could be heard leading anti-Jewish chants…
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) June 18, 2021
Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders have this week accused Israel of attempting “to set the region on fire for political aims” by allowing Jewish nationalists to continue to hold weekly parades through the old city.
This also as new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet is reportedly attempting to prove his credentials as a tough leader under a new government, and as well-known national security hawk Netanyahu handed over power.