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Israel carried out airstrikes on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip early Friday, following rocket assaults from southern Lebanon aimed toward Israel, which Israeli authorities blamed on a Palestinian militant group.

The most recent flare-up of violence within the Israeli-Palestinian battle comes at a time of already heightened tensions and coinciding non secular holidays in Israel and the Palestinian territories. It seems to have been triggered by two Israeli police raids at a delicate Jerusalem holy website.

Comply with our dwell updates on Israel’s strikes on Lebanon and Gaza

Through the first raid, early Wednesday, police arrested lots of of Palestinians inside al-Aqsa Mosque and injured a number of dozen. The incursion, which police mentioned got here in response to Palestinians barricading themselves within the mosque, sparked rocket fireplace from militants within the Gaza Strip, to which Israel responded with airstrikes.

In a second evening of violence across the mosque, Israeli police used stun grenades, rubber bullets and batons to disperse worshipers gathered for Ramadan prayers. The Palestine Crimson Crescent Society, a humanitarian group, mentioned no less than six Palestinians had been injured.

On Thursday, rockets launched from throughout the border in southern Lebanon triggered air raid sirens and flippantly injured a 19-year-old man. The volley of rocket fireplace was the biggest directed at Israel since 2006, when Israel fought a month-long struggle towards Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

No group instantly claimed accountability for the strikes. Israel has accused Hamas — the militant group that controls Gaza and has a presence in southern Lebanon — and mentioned it held the Lebanese authorities chargeable for assaults coming from its territory.

Comply with our dwell updates on Israel’s strikes on Lebanon and Gaza

The cross-border alternate of fireside underscored the potential for unrest round locations of worship in Jerusalem to set off a broader regional conflagration.

Identified to Jews because the Temple Mount and to Muslims because the Noble Sanctuary — which encompasses al-Aqsa — the positioning on the middle of the tensions is revered in each faiths. Even the slightest perceived change to the established order has the capability to impress violence.

Police raided the positioning Wednesday in the midst of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, simply earlier than the beginning of the Jewish Passover vacation — an overlap Israeli safety officers have lengthy warned might result in additional escalation.

However the brand new nationwide safety minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, chief of Israel’s far-right non secular nationalist motion, has pushed for a better Jewish presence at Temple Mount. Ben Gvir is understood for making provocative strikes to claim Jewish claims to Palestinian land or non secular areas.

In January, he made a tone-setting tour of the traditional non secular compound, within the first such go to in years by a high Israeli official.

Israeli police raid al-Aqsa Mosque; 37 individuals injured, Palestinians say

An official from Hamas criticized Wednesday’s raid as a “severe crime to which the Palestinian individuals and resistance will reply.”

Right here’s what to know concerning the website.

What’s the non secular significance of the positioning?

Inexperienced Line

(below 1949



Sources: Ir Amim, B’Tselem, satellite tv for pc imagery by way of Planet

Inexperienced Line

(below 1949



Sources: Ir Amim, B’Tselem, satellite tv for pc imagery by way of Planet

Inexperienced Line

(below 1949



Sources: Ir Amim, B’Tselem, satellite tv for pc imagery by way of Planet

The compound holds non secular significance for Muslims, Jews and Christians.

It’s the holiest website in Judaism. The historic origins of the positioning are disputed amongst archaeologists, however within the Jewish custom, a non secular construction often known as the First Temple was constructed on the hill through the reign of King Solomon within the tenth century B.C. The temple, round which the traditional Jewish religion was centered, and the one which adopted it had been destroyed when invading empires sacked Jerusalem.

“For Jews, it’s the most sacred place in Jewish historical past and really symbolizes the clearest contact between fashionable Israel and historical Israel,” mentioned Amichai Cohen, senior fellow on the Israel Democracy Institute.

In each Jewish and Muslim traditions, it’s often known as the place the place Abraham provided to sacrifice his son. Jews, by customized, pray dealing with Jerusalem, and particularly the Temple Mount. The Western Wall, a retaining wall exterior the al-Aqsa compound, has lengthy been honored as a focus for Jewish prayer.

For Muslims, the Noble Sanctuary is the third-holiest website, after mosques in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Al-Aqsa is seen because the place from which the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven after making a miraculous one-night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. The mosque was constructed on the southern a part of the plaza within the early eighth century A.D. Throughout the courtyard is the Dome of the Rock, an ornate Islamic shrine, with a golden dome seen throughout a lot of the town.

Who’s in command of the compound?

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan through the Arab-Israeli struggle in 1967 and later declared all of Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital — a transfer not acknowledged by many of the worldwide neighborhood. Since 1967, a non secular belief funded and supervised by Jordan has managed the al-Aqsa compound, an association formalized in a 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan.

Israel has safety authority on the website and maintains a police presence. Non-Muslims are allowed to go to however are barred from praying there.

Why is it thought-about a flash level for battle?

The positioning lies on the coronary heart of the wrestle between Israelis and Palestinians for management of Jerusalem. The standing of the town has proved a sticking level in efforts to achieve a two-state answer to the battle, and al-Aqsa has turn into a logo of the Palestinian quest for self-determination.

The mosque is “an important non secular website for Muslims in Palestine and it’s completely central to Palestinian id,” mentioned Khaled Elgindy, a Palestinian affairs knowledgeable on the Center East Institute.

Violations of the established order have been interpreted by many Palestinians as acts of aggression. A go to by Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s opposition chief, to the positioning in 2000 helped spark the second intifada, also called the al-Aqsa Intifada — a 4½-year Palestinian rebellion throughout which greater than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis had been killed.

Lately, Israel’s set up of metallic detectors on the compound provoked a violent backlash in 2017. And members of an emboldened Israeli non secular nationalist motion have more and more ventured onto the plaza, typically joined and inspired by Ben Gvir.

Jordan issued a formal grievance to Israel in April 2021 about giant teams of Jewish guests violating the established order. The next month, Ben Gvir’s assist for settlers in an East Jerusalem neighborhood helped catalyze an 11-day struggle between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that guidelines Gaza.

“Each time a minister or a Knesset member or a member of an extremist settler group goes as much as the al-Aqsa compound, they’re eroding the established order,” Elgindy mentioned.

Rights teams additionally say Israeli safety forces are fast to storm the positioning and to fireside tear gasoline and rubber bullets at protesters.

Are Jews divided over whether or not to wish there?

A “very giant majority” of non secular and extra secular Jewish Israelis chorus from going to the Temple Mount, Cohen mentioned. Given how simply infected tensions there can turn into, many really feel that Jews ought to keep away from the world in order to not provoke Palestinians and stoke one other spherical of violence.

However there are additionally non secular the reason why some Jews imagine it’s essential to remain off the Temple Mount. Many orthodox leaders say Jews mustn’t stroll on the “Holy of Holies,” a part of the positioning of the historic Jewish temples there. Jews from all around the world go to and pray on the adjoining Western Wall.

Why is far-right minister Ben Gvir targeted on the positioning?

A provocateur with a penchant for igniting media firestorms, Ben Gvir is a key participant in essentially the most right-wing authorities in Israel’s historical past. Palestinian teams and Arab nations referred to as his go to to the positioning in January an intentional provocation, elevating the potential for additional unrest.

Itamar Ben Gvir: How an extremist settler grew to become a strong Israeli minister

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s workplace has reiterated that he’s dedicated to upholding the established order. However Ben Gvir, his ally in authorities, has lengthy advocated for altering the association. Identified for his Jewish supremacist views, he has been convicted of inciting racism towards Arabs and supporting a terrorist group.

“Ben Gvir is the politician that has gained most from difficult the present coverage on Temple Mount,” Cohen mentioned.

Ben Gvir has beforehand supported activists who threatened to slaughter a lamb within the al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Jewish Passover vacation — a transfer that will upend the established order on the website and which police have warned might spark a regional struggle.

The messianic “Returning to the Mount” motion has provided tens of hundreds of Israeli shekels to anybody who makes an attempt to sacrifice a lamb on the website for Passover, which begins Wednesday night.

Police have stopped activists from doing so prior to now — however Ben Gvir now controls the power. Police have detained individuals suspected of desiring to slaughter lamb or goats on the website this week.

After two nights of violence round al-Aqsa Mosque, a tense calm prevailed on the website round Friday afternoon prayers.

The United Nations referred to as on “all actors to train most restraint.” However in an announcement after a cupboard assembly Thursday evening, Netanyahu vowed Israel would “actual a heavy worth” in retaliation for the rocket strikes, whereas Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s political chief, promised to defend al-Aqsa “by any means vital.”

Israel’s new far-right nationwide safety minister Itamar Ben Gvir briefly visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Jan. 3. (Video: Reuters)

Shira Rubin in Tel Aviv, Louisa Loveluck in Jerusalem, Niha Masih in Seoul and Miriam Berger in Washington contributed to this report.


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