23:18 GMT22 June 2021
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    Militants in the Gaza Strip have carried out 36 launches towards Israel's southern communities. Only six have been intercepted. Although no casualties or injuries have been reported, heavy damage was done to many agricultural fields in the south.

    Rocket strikes have forced many Israeli families to take cover in bomb shelters, while the sirens sounded in the southern part of the country. Two Gaza-based militant organisations took responsibility for the attacks. 

    Despite neither of the groups belonging to Hamas, Israel still holds the organisation that governs Gaza responsible for any attacks emanating from the territories it controls, even if the launches are not carried out by its own militants.

    A Hamas spokesman suggested the launches were connected to the situation in Jerusalem and that the attacks were done to "protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque", one of the holiest sites in Islam.

    What's Going on in Jerusalem?

    The statement from the organisation hinted at the recent escalation of tensions in Jerusalem. Israeli and Palestinians have been clashing since the beginning of Ramadan on 12 April, but the tensions have recently geared up, as some Palestinians claimed that police have tried to prevent them from holding their usual Ramadan evening gatherings outside Damascus Gate - close to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

    In the last few days, Arab youths have been attacking religious Jews and uploading their assaults on TikTok and other social media networks.

    Israeli border police officers, stand in the village of Azzun near the West Bank city of Qalqilya
    © AP Photo / Majdi Mohammed
    Israeli border police officers, stand in the village of Azzun near the West Bank city of Qalqilya

    The most recent attack was documented on Friday, when clashes erupted between Arabs and Israeli police shortly after the noon prayers. Four police officers were hurt in those riots.

    Similar attacks have also been seen in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, where Jews and Arabs have been living together for decades.

    Who's Firing The Rockets?

    These and similar assaults triggered a response from some right-wing Jewish organisations that vowed to take revenge.

    On Thursday, dozens of members of Lahava, a right-wing organisation, clashed with Arab youth during a staged rally in Jerusalem. Demonstrations of this sort are also expected in the upcoming days and the general feeling in Israel is that the country is heading to yet another round of tensions, either with the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank or those in the Gaza Strip.

    It is not yet clear how Israel will respond to the current wave of hostilities in Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is keeping quiet for now. The head of the opposition Yair Lapid has already commented on the situation, saying that Hamas militants  "have to pay a heavy price" for their actions.

    Palestinians clash with Israeli troops during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, Dec.8, 2017
    © AP Photo / Nasser Shiyoukhi
    Palestinians clash with Israeli troops during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Friday, Dec.8, 2017

    Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi is set to address the situation later today at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Tel Aviv. He is also expected to announce measures that will be taken against the Gaza militants.

    So far, reports have suggested that Israel will not carry out a retaliation on Saturday given the high turnout of vacationers in the area.

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    palestinians, Palestinians, Gaza Strip, Gaza, Israel
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