Gaza Militants Fire Missiles Into Israel As Middle East Crisis Heightens
Israeli security forces push out Palestinian protesters outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on April 24, 2021. - Fresh clashes broke out later Saturday between Palestinians and police after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for "calm on all sides" after several nights of unrest in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. But the premier also warned that Israel remains "prepared for all scenarios" after dozens of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, prompting Israeli retaliatory air strikes. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP) (Photo by

Militants in Gaza fired more than 30 rockets into Israel late Saturday and early Sunday morning, escalating a crisis that began with the exchange of missiles between Israel and Syria.

Israel immediately hit back, striking Hamas military targets that included rocket launchers, Israel’s military said Saturday.

“Two militant groups in Gaza, Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abu Ali Brigades, claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. Israel says it holds Gaza ruler Hamas responsible for any violence coming from the Gaza Strip,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

“In a statement, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Israel’s bombing of Hamas targets in Gaza as well as the recent clashes in Jerusalem are ‘part of its comprehensive aggressive policies against our people.’ Hamas did claim the rocket fire but said ‘what the Palestinian resistance is doing in response to this aggression is within the framework of carrying out its national duty to protect and defend the interests of our people,'” the Journal said.

The strife follows violent protests in Jerusalem after Palestinians claimed Israeli police have sought to shut down gatherings at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Israel on Thursday retaliated against Syria, which had launched an advanced surface-to-air missile that hit in the Negev Desert. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that in response, it attacked several missile batteries in Syria, including the one that fired the missile at Israel.

“A surface-to-air missile was fired from Syria to Israel’s southern Negev,” the Israel Defense Forces tweeted. “In response, we struck the battery from which the missile was launched and additional surface-to-air batteries in Syria.”

“Syria’s state news agency said Syrian air defenses intercepted the Israeli attack that had targeted areas in the Damascus suburbs,” The Jerusalem Post reported. “Air defenses intercepted the rockets and downed most of them,” the agency said. But four Syrian soldiers were reportedly injured in the attack and there was damage to facilities, it said.

Syria claimed it fired the missile in retaliation for what it claims was an Israeli Air Force bombing near Damascus. Israel’s attempt to intercept the missile failed. “The IDF activated its air defense systems in an attempt to intercept the missile, but the attempt failed,” the Post reported. “The military is investigating why its air defenses failed to intercept the SA-5 and did not intercept the large warhead. ”

“Early reports indicated that the explosion was the result of a Patriot missile defense system battery responding to the firing of the missile into Israel. The IDF later confirmed the reports and on Thursday morning, missile parts were located in the swimming pool of the Negev community of Ashalim,” the paper stated.

The Associated Press later said the Syrian missile was fired by accident and not aimed at Israel’s top-secret nuclear reactor.

“The Israeli military said Thursday that a Syrian missile that reached deep into Israeli territory and set off air raid sirens near the country’s top-secret nuclear reactor was the result of a misfire and not a deliberate attack,” the AP wrote. “The missile landed in southern Israel early Thursday, prompting Israel to respond with airstrikes on the missile launcher and other targets in Syria.”

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