Israel attacks Gaza for the second time this week

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Hamas says the bombing of Israel will only encourage Palestinians to “resist the occupation and increase their support for Jerusalem and its people.”

Israel has launched airstrikes in central Gaza for the second time this week, according to witnesses, with the military saying its fighter jets attacked an underground complex used to produce rocket engines.

The raids took place before dawn on Thursday.

There were no direct reports of casualties.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the attacks damaged several homes near one of the targets in the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

Earlier in the night, a rocket fired from Gaza hit southern Israel, causing minor damage to a house but no injuries, Israeli police said. Four more rockets were also fired from Gaza, the Israeli military said, following its attacks on the besieged coastal enclave, but were intercepted by air defense systems.

No Palestinian faction has claimed responsibility for the rocket launches.

In a statement, Hamas, the group that rules Gaza, said the Israeli bombing will only encourage Palestinians to “resist the occupation and increase their support for Jerusalem and its people.”

Streaks of light are seen as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts missiles launched from Gaza towards Israel [Amir Cohen/ Reuters]

A wave of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory has sparked fears of a return to wider conflict following last year’s 11-day war between Israel and Gaza, which left more than 250 Palestinians in Gaza and 13 people in Israel. were killed.

In March, Israeli forces killed at least 29 Palestinians in attacks in the West Bank after 14 people were killed in street attacks in Israel.

Israeli riot police also stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque complex — a site revered by Muslims and Jews — last week, injuring at least 158 ​​Palestinian believers.

Tensions have been heightened in part this year by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover.

Palestinians accuse Israel of invading Al-Aqsa by allowing Jewish believers into the holy site. They say the move violates an age-old policy that allows non-Muslims to visit but not pray.

Israeli leaders have said they guarantee freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem.

Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and is also revered by Jews as the site of two ancient temples.

Palestinians want occupied East Jerusalem, including Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites, as the capital of a future state.

Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem in a move that went unrecognized internationally after conquering the area in a 1967 war, considers all of Jerusalem its eternal capital.



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