Tension between Israel and Hamas militants has escalated to the point of all-out warfare, with rocket barrages raining down late Monday and early Tuesday killing dozens of people. Two Israelis have died so far as Hamas continues to launch missile attacks, and Israeli retaliation killed 26 in Gaza, including nine children.
Israel launched a counterattack early morning Tuesday, with several missiles bombarding a high-rise building in Gaza. The target was Hamas forces, an Islamic militant and nationalist organization that has been at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli retaliation sparked after several attacks from Hamas and other armed forces, when hundreds of rockets rained down on southern Israel. The battle on both sides is fueled by one goal – Jerusalem.
So far, 26 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s counterattacks, with women and children a large portion of the deaths. However, the Israeli military explained that 16 of those deaths were military personnel. The conflict has been relatively equal on both sides, as Gaza military groups continue to fire their rockets on Israel, and deaths are mounting there, too. Two have been fatally wounded and ten more are injured.
More might have died by the latest rocket salvo targeting the Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, but many missiles were countered by Israel’s advanced Iron Dome system. Others simply fell short of the cities.
Fox News correspondent Trey Yingst was reporting on the incident Monday night when rockets exploded overhead. He was appearing on Fox’s Special Report when Hamas fired missiles on his location (among others). The explosions could be heard down below as the Iron Dome intercepted the rockets, which exploded in the air.
Yingst explained in his report that “those rockets continue to be fired into Southern Israel … all along the Gaza strip. Overhead we can hear Israeli drones and fighter jets. Israel is preparing their retaliation against the factions there.”
Though this conflict has been boiling for quite some time, the recent escalation is fueled by confrontations between Israeli forces and protestors in Jerusalem. Last month, at the beginning of Ramadan, Israeli police barricaded Damascus Gate plaza, a popular holy site for Islamic prayer during the holiday. Protestors were infuriated at the disruption of their religious and social traditions.
The conflict grew as Israel limited prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque to only 10,000 people, despite tens of thousands of Palestinians who expected to attend. Those protests grew until frustrations could not be handled any longer. Over the weekend, a brawl between police officers and protestors erupted, leading to more than 30 officers wounded outside of the al-Aqsa Mosque. More than 700 civilian Palestinians bombarded the holy site.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out against the devastating attacks and recent protests, saying that Israel “will not tolerate harm to our territory, to our capital, to our citizens or to our soldiers. He who attacks us will pay a heavy price.”