Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Israeli strikes kill two after Gaza rocket attack amid US Jerusalem move fallout

Two Hamas members have been killed in Israeli air strikes following a rocket attack on Israel, Gaza officials said.

The Israeli military said it targeted four Hamas facilities early Saturday in response to rockets fired the previous day, including one that landed in the town of Sderot without causing casualties or major damage.

The military said it struck military warehouses and weapons manufacturing sites. Hamas said it recovered the bodies of two of its men.

Israel considers Hamas responsible for all rocket fire emanating from Gaza, which is home to other armed groups.

The incident was the latest fallout from US President Donald Trump's announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in dozens of West Bank hotspots on Friday and along the Gaza border, where two were killed.

Some residents of Sderot and other border towns spent the night in shelters, fearful of a resumption of rocket attacks from Gaza that have led to three Israel-Hamas wars over the past decade.

Large crowds of worshippers across the Muslim world staged anti-US marches on Friday, some stomping on posters of Donald Trump or burning American flags.

Saturday marked the third Palestinian "day of rage" following Mr Trump's announcement and more protests were expected.

In Bethlehem, Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

Mr Trump's announcement on Jerusalem, and his intention to move the US embassy to the city, triggered denunciations from around the world, with even close allies suggesting he had needlessly stirred more conflict in an already volatile region.

The status of the city lies at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Mr Trump's move was widely perceived as siding with Israel.

Even small crises over Jerusalem's status and that of the holy sites in its Old City have sparked deadly bloodshed in the past.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and other groups have called for mass protests while its rival, the Gaza-based Islamic militant group Hamas, is calling for a third violent uprising against Israel, though such appeals have largely fizzled out as Palestinians have become disillusioned with their leaders.

Most countries around the world have not recognised Israel's 1967 annexation of east Jerusalem and maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Under a longstanding international consensus, the fate of the city is to be determined in negotiations.

The United States found itself alone in the United Nations Security Council on Friday, fielding criticism from its other 14 members over the proposed move.

While Mr Trump's announcement was warmly welcomed in Israel as an acknowledgement of its long-time seat of government and the ancient capital of the Jewish people, it was greeted with outrage from Palestinians who considered it a slap in the face and an abandonment of the long-time American role as mediator in the conflict.

After two decades of halting peace negotiations that have failed to bring Palestinians closer to statehood, some in Mr Abbas's inner circle have begun to speak openly about abandoning the two-state formula in favour of a single binational state.

In a sign of Palestinian frustration with the Americans, Mr Abbas's political adviser, Majdi Khaldi, said the Palestinian president will not meet with US vice president Mike Pence when he visits the region later this month.


From Belfast Telegraph