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Deadly attack in Tel Aviv after Israel conducts air strikes on Palestinian militant targets in Lebanon and Gaza

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Palestinian assailants have carried out a pair of attacks killing three people and wounding at least six as tensions soared after days of fighting at Jerusalem’s most-sensitive holy site.

In one attack, Israeli authorities said, an Italian tourist was killed and five other Italian and British citizens were wounded when a car rammed into a group of tourists in Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub.

Earlier in the day, retaliatory Israeli air strikes had hit Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, sparking fears of a broader conflict.

In a separate incident, two British-Israeli women were fatally shot near a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The Israeli air strikes on Palestinian militant targets in both Lebanon and Gaza, were some of the heaviest and most-serious cross-border violence since Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants.

Israel’s military said its war planes struck infrastructure belonging to Hamas militants that it accused of firing nearly three dozen rockets that slammed into open areas and towns in northern Israel on Thursday, local time.

There were no reports of serious casualties, but several people in the southern Lebanese town of Qalili — including Syrian refugees — said they were lightly wounded.

Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry said it had instructed its mission to the United Nations to submit a complaint to the UN Security Council against the “deliberate Israeli bombing and aggression”, which it condemned as “a flagrant violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty”.

Israel, meanwhile, appealed to the international community to condemn the rocket fire from Lebanon and Gaza, and what it said was incitement to violence by Hamas.

It urged UN Secretary-General António Guterres to issue a Security Council condemnation of Lebanon and Hamas.

Al-Aqsa Mosque attack sparks tensions

The Hamas militant group that rules Gaza said the attack in Tel Aviv was a response to Israel’s “crimes against Al-Aqsa Mosque and [its] worshippers.”

Those comments referred to days of violence and unrest in Jerusalem’s most-sensitive holy site, the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City.

Jerusalem’s holy site of Al-Aqsa, a tinderbox for Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sits on a hilltop sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

In 2021, an escalation triggered by clashes there spilled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

On Friday, more than 130,000 worshippers poured into the compound for midday prayers, which ended without incident.

Before dawn prayers, chaos had erupted at an entrance to the esplanade as Israeli police wielding batons descended on crowds of Palestinian worshippers who chanted slogans praising Hamas as they tried to squeeze into the site.

An hour later, according to videos, people leaving the prayers staged a large protest in the limestone courtyard, raising their fists and shouting against Israel.

Israeli police forced their way into the compound, inflaming tensions during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Police said security forces entered the holy compound after prayers in response to “masked suspects” who threw rocks towards officers at one of the gates. Israeli authorities control access to the area but the compound is administered by Islamic and Jordanian officials.

Calm before the storm

After the incident, there were signs that both sides were trying to keep the hostilities in check.

Fighting on Israel’s northern and southern borders subsided after dawn, and midday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem passed peacefully.

However, a Palestinian shooting attack in the Israeli-occupied West Bank saw two British-Israeli sisters killed hours later.

In the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military pounded what it said were weapons production sites and underground tunnels belonging to Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave.

A children’s hospital in Gaza City was among sites sustaining damage, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

After the retaliatory strikes, Israelis living along the southern border returned home from bomb shelters.

Most missiles that managed to cross into Israeli territory hit open areas, but one landed in the town of Sderot, sending shrapnel slicing into a house.

The unrest comes at a delicate time for Jerusalem’s Old City, which was teeming with pilgrims from around the world.

While the Christian faithful on Good Friday retraced the route Jesus is said to have taken, Jews celebrated the week-long Passover holiday, and Muslims prayed and fasted for Ramadan.

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Article source: ABC | 8.4.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000