Hamas urges Palestinians to confront soldiers, settlers

Hamas urges Palestinians to confront soldiers, settlers

After rocket hits Sderot, senior Israeli security official urges terrorist group to reconsider allowing projectiles to be fired from Strip

Hamas supporters wave their green flags during a protest against the possible US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Jebaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Hamas supporters wave their green flags during a protest against the possible US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, in Jebaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Soon after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the Israeli town of Sderot, the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas on Friday night called on the Palestinian public to confront IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers across the West Bank in demonstrations on Saturday.

Following the rocket launch, a senior Israeli security official urged Hamas to “carefully consider whether to continue with its current line, under which it does not prevent firing [of rockets] from the Gaza Strip,” Ynet reported.

The rocket was the third launch of the evening, and came shortly after Israel struck Hamas targets in Gaza in response to the previous projectile-fire.

The Israel Defense Forces said it hit a training facility and a weapons depot belonging to the terror group.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said that 14 people were wounded, suffering what it described as light to moderate injuries. Reuters reported that as many as 25 people were wounded, including six children.

Witnesses told the news agency that most of the casualties were not Hamas men, but civilians who lived in a building near the training camp.

Hamas, an Islamist terror group which seeks to destroy Israel, has called for a new intifada in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition on Wednesday of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh on Friday evening praised as a “blessed intifada” the violent protests held by thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank and in Gaza throughout the afternoon. Two Gazans were reported killed in what Israel said were violent protests at the Gaza border fence and a third was badly injured.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from the Strip, which the terror group still overwhelmingly controls despite handing some power back to the Palestinian Authority.

The strike on Hamas positions came shortly after the army said its Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza. Sirens blared in communities near the Gaza border soon afterwards, as a second rocket was fired. The army said it did not identify an impact.

The IDF said there were no injuries or damage from those earlier rockets.

The military had warned more rockets could follow, and told residents of the Gaza periphery to remain close to protected spaces and bomb shelters.

The Israeli army said Palestinians “participated in violent riots at six locations along the border with the Gaza Strip.” It said troops shot at some of the rioters, but did not specify how many were wounded.

A number of rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza on Thursday, as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising. An IDF tank and aircraft carried out retaliatory strikes on two Hamas positions.

An Iron Dome defense system is deployed in central Israel, on November 14, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

The army sent soldiers to inspect the area for signs of impact, but, finding none, determined that the two rockets had not reached Israeli territory, a spokesperson said.

In the hours afterward, the Tawhid al-Jihad group claimed responsibility for the attack on social media. The small, radical group is affiliated with al-Qaeda.

The launches came five weeks after the Israeli military destroyed an attack tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, which crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip. In the blast and its aftermath, 12 members of the terrorist group were killed, along with two Hamas operatives.

Last week, the Islamic Jihad launched a dozen mortar shells at an army post northeast of the Strip, causing no injuries but some damage to army equipment.

The military retaliated with six strikes on terrorist positions in Gaza, four of them belonging to the Islamic Jihad and two to Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave.

In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

Trump also said the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, though he set no timetable for that.

US President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as US Vice President looks on, at the White House, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Jerusalem’s status is among the most difficult issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the US’s traditional position has been that it must be negotiated between the two sides.

While Israel has always considered Jerusalem its capital, with the prime minister’s office and parliament building located there, countries have avoided recognizing it as such to prevent damaging hopes for a two-state solution.

The Palestinians seek the eastern sector of the city as the capital of their future state.

Judah Ari Gross and agencies contributed to this report.

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