Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system downed dozens of rockets fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza strip on Monday amid ongoing clashes in the last several days days over religious sites in Jerusalem.
The rockets were fired by Hamas, a Palestinian organization designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department. Video on Monday night showed dozens of Hamas rockets flying toward the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. The rockets could be seen exploding in mid-air after being hit by the Iron Dome’s interceptor missiles.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Hamas has fired more than 200 rockets at Israel.
The New York Times reported the outpouring of Hamas rocket fire comes after Israeli police raided the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and clashed with hundreds of Palestinian protesters on Monday.
On Tuesday, the IDF tweeted, “1 rocket every 3 minutes. That’s how often terror groups in Gaza have been firing rockets toward Israel in the last 18 hours.
On Tuesday morning, the Israeli military initially announced six Israeli civilians were hurt by rocket fire. Israeli officials have since announced at least two Israeli civilians were killed in the rocket attacks.
“#BREAKING Video: Multiple rockets shot from Gaza being intercepted by the Iron Dome over southern #Israel moments ago. #IsraelUnderFire #IsraelUnderAttack,” one Twitter account tweeted.
In one video, two Israeli reporters standing in front of an Iron Dome missile battery were surprised when the system was set off by incoming rocket fire.
The IDF tweeted, “In response to 200+ rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel, we killed 15 Hamas terrorists and struck 130 Hamas & Islamic Jihad terror targets in Gaza overnight, incl.: 2 attack tunnels, A Hamas military intel facility, Weapons manufacturing and storage sites.”
The IDF has also launched its own counterattacks, targeting multiple Hamas rocket sites.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also tweeted, “I have just finished at the Southern Command assessing the situation with the Minister of Defense, the Chief of Staff and the Commander-in-Chief of the Southern Command. We are in the midst of a campaign. Since yesterday, the IDF has attacked hundreds of attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.”
Netanyahu said the Israeli strikes would increase in speed and intensity
“Hamas will receive blows here that it did not expect,” Netanyahu continued.
Netanyahu also called for Israeli civilians to comply with safety instructions and have patience.
“I know that this also involves patience and a certain sacrifice on your part, you citizens of Israel,” he said. “Unfortunately, two of our civilians were killed. I ask all of you to obey the instructions, to strictly observe the instructions of the Home Front Command, it saves lives. We have another way to do it, we will do it together responsibly, with full backing for the attacks that the IDF is attacking and will attack.”
According to the New York Times, Palestinian officials said the Israeli counterattacks have already resulted in at least 20 Palestinian deaths, including nine children.
The Associated Press reported some potential signs of de-escalation following the Monday rocket attacks and Israeli counterattacks. Israel reportedly limited its police presence around the Al Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian worshippers performed the dawn prayer without confrontation between the two groups.