Airstrikes between the Israeli military and the Hamas militant group in Gaza have left two Israelis and 26 Palestinians dead as violence continues to mount, according to The Associated Press.
- The airstrikes began at sundown Monday following a week of escalating clashes. Both sides have continued exchanging fire into Tuesday with no indication of stopping.
According to the AP, an Israeli military spokesman said more than 500 rockets fired at Israel. The Hamas rockets hit the homes of Israelis in the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, killing two women with another woman in critical condition, per CBS News.
- Many of the rockets fell short, landing in Gaza.
In return, Israeli rockets have targeted high-rise apartment buildings in Gaza city, firing at least 130 rockets. The airstrikes have killed 26 Palestinians, among those nine children and a woman, according to Gaza health officials, The New York Times reports. The remaining 16 killed were militants, according to the Israeli military.
The violence this week comes as a flare-up of longtime tensions over the conflicting Israeli-Palestinian claims of ownership of Jerusalem.
Why were there airstrikes now?
Over the past week, tensions in Jerusalem have risen between Israelis and Palestinians as a result of two events:
- Over the weekend, Israeli courts threatening to evict dozens of Palestinian families in the Shiekh Jarrah neighborhood, according to The New York Times. The expulsions would have removed the current Palestinian residents to give Jewish settlers the land. These expulsions were delayed on Sunday, partly due to the increase in tensions.
- There was also a raid on Monday by Israeli police on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism. The Israeli police used tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber pullets on Palestinians in and around the mosque. Palestinians responded by throwing stones and chairs. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 330 Palestinians were injured by Israeli police. However, the total number of injured may be as high as 700. Many of the civilians were praying at the mosque as the police raid came during the Muslim fasting and holy month of Ramadan, which began in mid-April.
Following these events, Hamas militants in Gaza began airstrikes on Israel with the Israeli military quickly returning fire.
Where is this conflict going?
Currently, both sides have stated they will continue to strengthen their attacks and defenses, according to CBS News. Internationally, Israel’s actions have drawn angry responses from Muslims while the United Nations has called a meeting of its security council to discuss the violence.
Additionally, attempts of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire are underway. However, anonymous officials say that the actions of Israeli military forces in Jerusalem have complicated this effort, the AP reports.