Israeli warplanes strike Gaza in response to rocket fire, as tensions over Trump deal swell

Israeli warplanes strike Gaza in response to rocket fire, as tensions over Trump deal swell
Warplanes attacked multiple positions in Gaza after rockets were fired into Israel, while at least 40 Palestinians were injured in protests in the West Bank.
3 min read
31 January, 2020
The flare-up marks the end of a period of calm between Hamas and Israel [Getty]
Israeli warplanes launched air strikes on multiple positions in the Gaza Strip early on Friday, the army said.

The targeted sites, which included swathes of farmland in the north Gaza and Gaza City governates, were left destroyed but no casualties were reported, according to Aljazeera's Arabic-language site.  

An Israeli military spokesman said the attack on suspected Hamas positions was a response to rockets and incendiary balloons fired earlier into Israel.

Two rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron-dome missile defence system, the statement said.

Unanimous rejection

Tensions in the region have risen markedly after US President Donald Trump unveiled his highly controversial plan to end the Israel-Palestine conflict, dubbed the "deal of the century".

These include a guarantee that Israel keep all its settlements, considered illegal under international law, in addition to the formalised annexation of large parts of the West Bank.

The promise of a Palestinian state offered under the deal is one with limited sovereignty, no military and no control over its borders.

Read more: Trump's 'peace plan' is nothing but repackaged Israeli apartheid

The unrest severs a period which had otherwise been calm in Gaza, with Hamas reducing incidences of rocket fire into Israel and curbing its weekly protests along the Gaza fence, granting Egyptian and UN mediators the opportunity to create an informal truce between Israel and the militant group.

This week however, thousands gathered for demonstrations against Trump's plan, which is seen as highly favourable to Israel, donning badges proclaiming "no to the deal of the century".

In the West Bank, Israeli military forces on Thursday mounted a harsh crackdown on Palestinian protesters who poured onto city streets to express outrage at the deal's proposals.

At least forty Palestinians were injured, including three by rubber bullets, when mass demonstrations in city of Bethlehem and al-Bireh were brutally repressed by Israeli authorities on Thursday.

Tear gas was fired to disperse a crowd assembled near Nablus, injuring seven Palestinians, who were rushed to hospital for emergency treatment, according to Aljazeera.

Days of rage ahead

Israeli police have increased their presence in Jerusalem's Old City, where larger protests are expected after Friday prayers at the Haram al-Sharif, home to Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque, which is a historic rallying point for demonstrations.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said "heightened security" measured had been put in place and that the "police will respond if necessary".

Palestinians view the sprawling promenade as exclusively theirs and the Dome of the Rock as a symbol of their national cause.

The site is part of the famed Old City in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 war.  

The Palestinians view East Jerusalem as their capital and unwaveringly demand that all three territories form their future state.

Trump's Middle East plan would create a disjointed Palestinian state with a capital on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, outside the separation barrier built by Israel.

The rest of Jerusalem, including the Old City, would remain Israel's capital.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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