A confrontation between Israel and Hamas sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem escalated Tuesday as Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza while militants fired 130 rockets towards the Israeli city Tel Aviv. The exchange killed a number of militants and civilians in Gaza and at least two Israelis.
Hamas Islamists said they had fired 130 rockets towards Tel Aviv on Tuesday, unleashing a massive barrage on Israel’s economic hub, in retaliation for an Israeli strike on 12-storey tower near Gaza’s coast.
Tensions have simmered for weeks flared last Friday when Israeli riot police clashed with large crowds of Palestinians at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
On the Palestinian side, nine children were among at least 26 people killed in the blockaded Gaza Strip, and 125 people there were reported wounded, many rescued from the smouldering ruins of buildings hit in the crowded enclave.
On the Israeli side, rockets killed two women in Ashkelon, just north of Gaza, a coastal city that Hamas threatened to turn into a “hell”, at one stage claiming to have fired more than 100 rockets in under five minutes to overwhelm air defences.