Two terror groups in Gaza took responsibility on Saturday for the salvos of rockets fired at Israel overnight, saying the attack was in response to violent clashes in Jerusalem in recent days and that worse was still to come.
Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades said that they were behind the 36 rockets fired at Israel, linking the attack to the unrest in and around the Old City.
“We will burn the occupation’s settlements for you, O Jerusalem. The greatest [response] has yet to come,” a spokesperson for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade said.
The rocket attack followed days of tensions and clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank that involved Palestinian and Israeli civilians as well as Israeli security forces. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan normally sees increased tensions around the Old City, which houses the Temple Mount site, holy to both Jews and Muslims.
Terrorists fired 36 rockets toward Israel from the Gaza Strip overnight with six projectiles intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the Israel Defense Forces said Saturday morning.
The barrages were the worst assault from the Strip in many months and while there were no Israeli injuries, the rockets did cause damage in a number of communities.
Official Hamas media tracked the launch of rockets across the Gaza Strip, reporting their firing in real-time, leading some to speculate that the terror group was covertly involved.
Hamas did not take responsibility for the rocket fire, however. Israel has stressed in the past it holds Hamas, Gaza’s rulers, responsible for all violence emanating from the Strip.
“The Palestinian resistance is ready to respond to aggression, even the score with the occupation and prevent its violations against our people,” Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group also connected the rocket fire to the violence in Jerusalem.
“The Al-Aqsa [mosque] is a red line and the entire Palestinian people stands behind the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem,” the group said in a statement. “We will not allow the settlers to defile [al-Aqsa]. The Palestinian people will, in their unity, thwart the enemy’s plots.”
The UN special envoy for the Middle East process, Tor Wennesland, said Saturday that he was “alarmed” by the escalation in violence in Jerusalem and around the Strip and that the firing of rockets toward Israeli civilians was a violation of international law.
“The provocative acts across Jerusalem must cease. The indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israeli population centers violates international law and must stop immediately,” Wennesland said in a statement.