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Man narrowly escapes death as car hit by rocket near Gaza

Gaza rocket fire forces temporary clearing of Knesset plenum and Western Wall

Police allow Jerusalem Day parades in and around Kotel to move forward, after sirens force thousands to evacuate; homes around Jerusalem damaged, south takes brunt of fire

The Knesset plenum clears following a rocket alert on May 10, 2021. (Screen capture/Twitter)
The Knesset plenum clears following a rocket alert on May 10, 2021. (Screen capture/Twitter)

A barrage of rockets sent from Gaza toward Israel’s capital forced the evacuation of the Knesset plenum and a temporary decision to cancel Jerusalem Day celebrations in the Old City, as homes in the surrounding area were damaged by the shrapnel and reverberations of the projectiles.

Footage from the plenum, where lawmakers had gathered for a session marking the allied victory over Nazi Germany, showed MKs looking toward the exit, as the faint sound of rocket sirens could be heard in the background.

Knesset guards were then seen urging MKs to evacuate to the nearest bomb shelter, with one calling on Speaker Yariv Levin to pause the session. He did so, slamming his gavel before evacuating the plenum along with the other lawmakers and journalists.

The halls outside the plenum filled with those who were in the Victory Day-commemoration session, including a delegation of foreign ambassadors to Israel, as they waited for an all-clear from Knesset security.

Elsewhere in the city, police briefly closed the Western Wall promenade, where Jewish revelers had been gathering for a ceremony to mark Jerusalem Day, due to concerns of visitors’ safety, during the rocket fire.

Thousands of mainly young, national religious revelers continued dancing in and around the Old City’s walls, in defiance of Gazan efforts to scuttle the day’s celebrations.

Less than an hour later, police lifted their order evacuating the Western Wall, allowing the promenade to refill with Jewish worshipers.

In suburbs surrounding the capital, images were less festive. A handful of homes in Mevasseret Zion and Beit Nekofa incurred damage from shrapnel and reverberations due to the rockets from Gaza that fell nearby.

While the first barrage of rockets fired Monday afternoon targeted Jerusalem, southern Israel received the brunt of projectiles that were launched in the hours that followed.

An Israeli boy checks debris at a house on the outskirts of Jerusalem where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, controlled by the Palestinian terror group Hamas, fell on May 10, 2021. ( Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

An anti-tank guided missile was also fired at an Israeli civilian’s car near the Gaza border, lightly injuring him. Medics said the man sustained shrapnel wounds to the face and extremities. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) took responsibility for the attack.

*נס בעוטף עזה| בהמשך לירי הנט לעבר כלי רכב*בוצע ירי נ״ט לעבר רכב אזרחי, פונה אזרח במצב קל מאוד מאוד, ע״י רבשצ אחד היישובים במועצה אזורית שער הנגב.מצורף סרטון בלעדי לאחר הירי.*חדשות בטחון שדה*

Posted by ‎חדשות בטחון שדה‎ on Monday, May 10, 2021

Footage published by PIJ of the attack showed how the driver of the vehicle narrowly avoided death, having stepped out of the car shortly before the missile was fired.

There were no other immediate reports of direct Israeli injuries from the barrages. A number of people were treated after they experienced acute anxiety attacks, medics said.

The Israeli Air Force began conducting airstrikes on targets in the Strip around 6:30 p.m., in response to the ongoing attacks from the enclave. IDF spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the military was targeting rocket-launching cells and had killed at least three Hamas members who had taken part in the attacks.

The waves of rocket fire began at 6 p.m. when Hamas threatened it would attack Israel if it did not remove its security forces from the Temple Mount and the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, following weeks of unrest in the capital.

Monday saw major clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as many rock-throwing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians. Hundreds of Palestinians were injured by Israeli security forces during the riots, along with dozens of police officers and a small number of Israeli civilians.

In response to the recent violence from Gaza, Israel on Monday morning announced it was closing the pedestrian Erez Crossing to the enclave “until further notice,” with the exception of emergency humanitarian cases. On Sunday, Israel closed the Strip’s fishing zone, cutting off a major source of income for thousands of Palestinians in the coastal enclave.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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