Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Israel launches artillery attacks on Syria after rocket fire

(Al Jazeera Media Network) The Israeli military says it has launched artillery attacks on Syria after several rockets were fired from Syrian territory towards northern Israel, none of which caused damage or casualties.

The cross-border exchanges early on Sunday came as violence escalates on multiple fronts, including in Gaza, Lebanon, occupied East Jerusalem, and the occupied West Bank.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government.

The Israeli military said it had launched artillery strikes and a drone attack against rocket launchers in Syria.

There were two rounds of rocket launches from Syrian territory in the early hours of Sunday, it said. The first involved three rockets, one of which landed in a field in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

The second launch, which also involved three rockets, set off sirens in northern Israel. There were no reports of casualties.

Lebanon-based Al Mayadeen TV said the rocket launches were claimed by Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.

The rocket fire from Syria comes against the backdrop of soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions triggered by Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The site in Jerusalem’s Old City, holy to both Muslims and Jews, who know it as Temple Mount, has been a longstanding flashpoint, notably over the issue of Jewish visitors defying a ban on non-Muslim prayer in the mosque compound.

The raids came at a time of heightened religious fervour – with Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian Easter celebrations. Violent scenes from the attacks outraged Palestinians observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan and prompted armed groups in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip to fire a barrage of rockets into Israel.

In a separate incident on Saturday, Israeli security forces shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian in the northern occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

A car-ramming incident in Tel Aviv on Friday killed an Italian man and wounded five other tourists. The Tel Aviv attack came hours after a Palestinian man shot and killed two Israeli sisters and wounded their mother near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Amid the escalation, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has extended a closure barring entrance to Israel for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for the duration of Passover, while police beefed up forces in Jerusalem on the eve of sensitive religious celebrations.

Mass prayers, however, were permitted at the Al-Aqsa mosque over the weekend.

More than 2,000 police were expected to be deployed in Jerusalem on Sunday – when tens of thousands of Jews are expected to gather at the Western Wall at the Al-Aqsa compound for the Passover priestly blessing.



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