Rocket sirens blared and explosions were heard across the Jerusalem area Monday evening, sending people outdoors scrambling for cover and Knesset members running for bomb shelters, as a Hamas deadline for Israel to pull its security forces from parts of the capital expired.
The IDF said that it had detected seven projectiles launched from the Gaza Strip at the Jerusalem area, one of which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck targets in the northern Strip in response. Palestinian sources said that nine people had been killed in the airstrikes, including three children.
Israel's Channel 12 TV quoted the IDF as saying, however, that the children were killed when a rocket intended for Israel misfired.
As rocket sirens were set off, Jewish marchers who participated in the Jerusalem Day flag parade ran for cover. Police demanded that the march be called off immediately but the participants carried on.
Meanwhile, rocket fire was met with cheers from Palestinians at the Old City’s Damascus Gate, a flashpoint in the days of clashes with Israeli security forces in the capital.
The Knesset Guard evacuated lawmakers who were in session at the time, sending them to bomb shelters in the compound.
The military also confirmed that an anti-tank missile was fired from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel, lightly injuring a man who was evacuated to the hospital after being hit by shrapnel. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas' military wing Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said the rocket attacks were a response to what he called Israeli "crimes and aggression" in Jerusalem.
"This is a message the enemy must understand well," he said.
Rocket sirens were also heard in Gaza border communities and the southern cities of Ashkelon and Sderot.
Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel a short time before the barrages began, giving the country until 6pm to withdraw of all its security forces from the Temple Mount, which had erupted into violence earlier in the day, and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where settlers are involved in a legal challenge to evict Palestinians from their homes.
The group also demanded that Palestinians detained during th days of clashes in Jerusalem were freed by the same deadline.
Similar threats were made by the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror groups.
Jerusalem has been the site of days of violence as Palestinians clashed with Israeli security forces across the city, culminating in massive confrontations on Temple Mount on Monday morning as Israel held its annual Jerusalem Day to celebrate the reunification of the city after the 1967 Six-Day War.
The hilltop location is home to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam that is built on the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples that are the holiest site in Judaism.
The Hamas ultimatum came after the IDF closed off several roads in the Gaza border region in response to repeated rocket fire and arson attacks from the Strip, and scrapped a massive military drill so as to have all troops available should there be an escalation in violence.
Train services between the southern cities of Be'er Sheva and Ashkelon were also halted Monday, with visitors barred from arriving at Zikim Beach just north of the Gaza Strip.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi decided to cancel the "Chariots of Fire" drill following a security assessment in light of the ongoing violence.
According to the Kan national broadcaster, Israel is bracing for rocket fire from Gaza at the center of the country Monday night and is directing planes to avoid a flight path that approaches the Strip.
Earlier Monday, the military said it was sending reinforcements to the country's south after also deploying additional forces to the West Bank.
The Palestinian factions in Gaza resumed the rocket attacks on the south at dawn Monday just hours after firing several projectiles as tensions on the border increased due to the Jerusalem clashes.
Rocket alert sirens blared in the southern city of Sderot and communities near the Gaza border just after 6am, a few hours after three rockets were fired toward Ashkelon and the surrounding areas.
One of the rockets was intercepted by Iron Dome and no injuries or property damage in the bombardment was reported.
In response to the rocket fire and incendiary balloon attacks that caused over 40 fires in Israeli fields on Sunday, IDF tanks struck Hamas military posts in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF also said the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza was closed until further notice, save for humanitarian and other extraordinary cases.
First published: 18:28, 05.10.21