Two Israeli women killed as Israeli-Palestinian violence escalates

Two women have been killed in Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel in tit-for-tat violence sparked after Israel started clearing Palestinian homes to make way for Jewish settlers.

he two, one of whom was 80 years old, were killed in two separate strikes that hit two houses in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.

Militants in Gaza launched rocket barrages into Israel for a second day on Tuesday and Israeli planes fired missiles in the Palestinian territory, where the health ministry said the death toll rose to at least 26, including nine children.

The most serious outbreak of fighting between armed factions in Hamas Islamist-run Gaza and Israel since 2019 began with confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli police at Al Asqa Mosque in Jerusalem on Monday.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have been high in the holy city during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with sporadic clashes and possible evictions of Palestinians from homes claimed by Jewish settlers in a long-running court case adding to the friction.

A Palestinian official said Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations were trying to stem the escalating violence, amid international concern that events could spiral out of control.

The Gaza health ministry said at least 26 Palestinians, including nine children, had been killed and 122 wounded by Israeli strikes in the enclave of two million people since Hamas on Monday fired rockets towards Jerusalem for the first time since 2014.

Israel disputed the account, saying it had killed at least 15 Hamas fighters and that a third of the more than 250 rockets launched by militants had fallen short, causing Palestinian civilian casualties.

In one Gaza neighbourhood, an Israeli missile exploded inside an apartment in a multi-story building, killing three Islamic Jihad members, an official from the militant group said.

Police said 31 people were hurt by rocket strikes in southern Israel, though the military said its air defences were intercepting around 90% of the cross-border launches.

Hamas said that in one five-minute barrage alone, it had fired 137 missiles at Ashkelon and Ashdod, two coastal cities south of Tel Aviv, where live TV showed at least two homes on fire.

The multiple launchings appeared to be an attempt to overwhelm Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

A school in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket, Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said. Classes had been cancelled in the area and the building was empty.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel should stop “immediately.” He urged all sides to take steps to reduce tensions.

Israel has also seen a spread of pro-Palestinian protests, some violent, among its 21pc Arab minority.

On Monday, more than 300 Palestinians were injured at Al Asqa Mosque in clashes with Israeli police, who fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas in the compound, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Police said 21 officers were hurt in the skirmishes.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, a status not generally recognized internationally. Palestinians want the eastern sector – captured by Israel in a 1967 war – as the capital of a future state and have been incensed by Israeli court-ordered evictions there to make way for Jewish settlers. A hearing on the evictions was postponed on Sunday.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

I have 26 years of experience as a professional writer and editor and have been working as a full time freelancer since 2011. I am originally from Casablanca, Morocco, and I graduated from Qatar University with a degree in journalism. I have worked for newspapers, magazines, news agencies, websites. I speak fluent Arabic, French, English, Russian and Spanish.

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