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Israel Intercepts Rocket From Gaza Amid Tensions

Israel’s aerial defense system intercepted a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip on Monday, amid simmering tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians, an Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement.

“One rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, and it was intercepted by the Iron Dome Air Defense System,” the military spokesperson said.

The rocket triggered sirens in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. It was the first time a rocket was fired from Gaza in the last seven months.

The rocket launch came amid the latest wave of violence over the past month that saw Israeli police raiding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. At least 200 Palestinians were injured during Israelis’ raids.

Hamas, the Palestinian group that administers the coastal enclave, had warned that any incidents at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound would be a “red line” after Israeli forces raided the site in East Jerusalem several times in recent days, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and leaving dozens injured.

Palestinians accuse Israel of encroaching at Al-Aqsa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israel says Palestinian protesters seek to disrupt Muslim prayer for political ends and to prevent visits by Jews, who are celebrating Passover.

The site is revered by Muslims and Jews. Israeli police have said they were committed to ensuring that members of all faiths could celebrate the holidays safely.

Prior to the rocket attack, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Hamas of waging a “wild harassment campaign” against Israel. Egypt and Jordan, which inked peace agreements with Israel decades ago and coordinate with it on security matters, have condemned the actions of Israeli forces at the site.

Jordan — which serves as custodian of the site — summoned Israel’s deputy charge d’affaires to Amman on Monday in protest.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Monday that Israel’s “unilateral” moves against Muslim worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque seriously undermined the prospects for peace in the region, according to state media.

The monarch was speaking with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he made remarks blaming Israel for “provocative acts” in the mosque compound that violated “the legal and historic status quo” of the holy shrines.

On Friday, at least 152 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli police inside the mosque compound, the latest outbreak in an upsurge of violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

Crackdowns by Israeli forces on protesters who were demonstrating against attempts to forcibly expel Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah last year were a trigger for an escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas fighters in Gaza.

Meanwhile, more than 10 Israelis were killed in a string of shooting, stabbing, and car-ramming attacks in the last few weeks, some of which were carried out by Arab citizens of Israel.

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