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Israel’s annual Jerusalem Day was overshadowed by rocket sirens and explosions as the Hamas claimed responsibility for striking the country’s capital in what marks further escalation with the militant group.

The rocket barrage towards Jerusalem and surrounding areas started just a few minutes following the expiration of an “ultimatum” by Hamas, which called for the withdrawal by the Israeli police from several areas in eastern Jerusalem and for freeing Palestinian prisoners. Marchers who participated in the Jerusalem Day flag parade were forced to ran for cover and continued the celebration shortly after.

According to Israel Defense Forces, a barrage of rockets was also being fired toward southern Israel. The IDF said that it had detected seven rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at the Jerusalem area, at least one of which was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. One house reportedly sustained damage, and there were no immediate reports of injuries.

“In Palestinian terrorism, an iron fist must be fought. Anyone who puts Israeli residents in shelters should know that he will regret it,” said Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. “The Israeli government will take determined action.”

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Hamas said it fired rockets towards Jerusalem in response to Israeli “crimes and aggression in the Holy City, and its harassment of our people in Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

According to reports, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in the Judean hills. The IDF reported that an anti-tank missile was fired from Gaza toward Israel. As a result, an Israeli civilian in a nearby vehicle was lightly injured and evacuated to a hospital for further medical treatment.

According to Walla News, Israel’s security cabinet gave the IDF a green light to hit targets throughout the Gaza Strip.

“In the next few days, Hamas will feel the long arm of the [Israeli] army. It won’t take a few minutes, it will take a few days,” IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said.

Jerusalem has been the site of a number of days of violence as Palestinians clashed with Israeli police forces across the capital and around the Temple Mount ahead of the annual Jerusalem Day to celebrate the reunification of the city after the 1967 Six-Day War. This year the march coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Violence had also erupted in recent days in response to the tension around the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem, where a number of Palestinian families are set to be evicted in an ongoing court case.

“No country can allow its citizens to live under the threat of terrorism,” said leader of the Israeli opposition Yair Lapid. “Israel must act resolutely and forcefully and restore deterrence in the war against the enemies of Israel.”

Editor’s note: this article will be updated with developing events

Source of original article: Israel – (
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