Israel launches air strikes on besieged Gaza

16 Juin, 2021, 06:37 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • File image of the Iron Dome Missile defence system intercepting a Hamas rocket during the May 2021 Gaza conflict

Israeli nationalists marched through east Jerusalem in a flag-waving procession as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces.

The airstrikes were launched today after Palestinians in Gaza released incendiary balloons that caused at least 10 fires in southern Israel.

Israel has launched air strikes on besieged Gaza, the first Israeli strike in the Palestinian enclave since a ceasefire ended 11 days of war last month. The march, which celebrates the anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem is seen as provocative by the Palestinians who consider the city as their religious and political capital.

At one point, several dozen youths, jumping and waving their hands in their air, chanted: "Death to Arabs!"

The crowd, while boisterous, appeared to be much smaller than during last month's parade.

Earlier, Israeli groups prepared to carry out their procession in east Jerusalem on Tuesday and hoped to pass through Jerusalem's Old City as reports said there were clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at the Damascus Gate.

The activists previously reached an agreement with the police that the march will start from Ha-Nevi'im street (Street of the Prophets) and then head to the Damascus Gate, where participants will dance with Israeli flags.

Medics said 33 Palestinians were wounded and police said two officers were injured and 17 people were arrested.

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Tensions between Israeli settlers and Palestinians are again rising which threatens to bring about a new round of clashes, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland has warned.

The US and United Nations had called for restraint before the far-right march, which the government of new Israeli PM Bennett had authorised.

Instead, the route went around the ancient walls of the Old City and through Jaffa Gate, a main thoroughfare for tourists, and toward the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray.

After capturing east Jerusalem in 1967, Israel annexed it in a move not recognised by most of the worldwide community. The conflict between the two sides between May 10 to 21 had led to the deaths of at least 260 Palestinians.

Batteries of Israel's Iron Dome rocket-defense system were seen deployed near the southern town of Netivot, near the Gaza border, as a precaution.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz met with the military chief of staff, the police commissioner and other senior security officials.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, of the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, called the march an "aggression against our people". "Jews and Arabs alike", his office said.

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