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Rocket fire from Lebanon into Israel

What happened: A rocket was fired last night from Lebanon into northern Israel.

  • The Grad rocket was launched about 20km from the border, exploded in an open area and caused no casualties or damage.
  • The rocket was heard in the nearby town of Shlomi but did not trigger the air raid siren as it landed in an unpopulated area.
  • In response, the IDF fired dozens of artillery shells at the area in southern Lebanon from where the rocket was launched.
  • On Friday night, three rockets were fired towards southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. At least one failed to cross the border.
  • Instead of responding with airstrikes, Israel chose this time to retaliate with economic measures by closing the crossings and not allowing Gazan workers or businessmen into Israel. This measure remains in force.
  • In Jerusalem on Friday, twice the number of police entered the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif, responding to violence as hundreds of people threw rocks and fired fireworks.
  • The police dispersed the protestors using non-lethal crowd-control measures, including the use of a drone to drop tear gas canisters on the demonstrators.
  • According to Palestinian sources, 26 people suffered from tear gas inhalation. One man was hospitalised in serious condition with a head injury after he fell trying to escape from the police.
  • Yesterday Jerusalem was quiet, the streets were calm, even if the atmosphere remained tense.

Context: The rocket fire from Lebanon adds to the tension, as Ramadan enters its final week.

  • There have been a total of six rockets fired out of the Gaza Strip in the last week, four of which exploded inside Israel.
  • Following the latest escalation in May 2021, Israel has tried to incentivise quiet by improving economic prospects for Gazans, including expanding work permits into Israel, allowing the Qatari funds in and approving reconstruction and infrastructure projects.
  • Israel is hoping that by temporarily preventing Gazans’ access into Israel, this will create internal pressure on Hamas to ensure there will be no more escalation of violence. Due to the ability to earn relatively well by working inside Israel, it is estimated that every labourer provides a livelihood for a dozen people.
  • The current assessment is that whilst Hamas is inciting violence in Jerusalem, in the West Bank and even among Israeli Arabs, they are not responsible for the rocket fire from Gaza. Furthermore, there are reports of them preventing fire and even arresting Islamic Jihad operatives.
  • Israel is maintaining dialogue with Egypt, who serves as the main mediation channel to Hamas.
  • This year has seen more sightings of green Hamas flags and banners and pro-Hamas chanting on the Temple Mount.
  • During the conflict last May, there were three separate instances of rockets fired from Lebanon. Similarly, it is the working assessment that last night’s rocket was launched by Palestinian groups and not Hezbollah.
  • In a briefing yesterday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused terror organisations of “hijacking the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to create an outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, and from there, a violent conflict across the country”.
  • He also recommitted to the Status Quo, saying: “Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims visit. There is no change. There will be no change. We have no plans to divide the Temple Mount between religions. We call on Muslim moderates, on Muslim states, to act against this fake news, and to work together with us to ensure our common interest: preservation of the Status Quo and calming the situation.”

Looking ahead: Israel remains on a high state of alert, across all sectors; in Jerusalem, West Bank, mixed cities and the Gaza Strip.

  • This Friday is the final Friday of Ramadan, and Eid el-Fitr is due to begin on Sunday.
  • At the end of next week, Israel marks Independence Day, which coincides with Palestinian marking their Nakba Day.
  • At the end of May, Israel will celebrate Jerusalem Day and will face a decision over what to do about the march of the flags.

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