Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, said the rocket attack was a response to what he called Israeli “crimes and aggression” in Jerusalem. “This is a message the enemy should understand well,” he said.
The Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, said 45 missiles were fired into Israel in what the organization’s spokesperson called a “blatant, severe attack” by Hamas.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in a briefing to foreign reporters that six of the rockets were fired into Jerusalem, and one missile hit a house in the outskirts of the city, but no one was injured.
During earlier tensions in the city, the Palestinian Red Crescent told The Associated Press that more than 305 Palestinians were injured in the clashes that took place in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City, and at least 228 were taken to hospitals.
Police said 21 officers were hurt, according to the news agency, including three who were hospitalized.
A spokesperson for the mosque said the clashes began when police tried to evacuate the compound, where many Palestinian worshippers sleep during the holy month of Ramadan, to allow Israelis in.
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza, in the 1967 Six-Day War with its Arab neighbors. Israel views the entire city as its capital and annexed east Jerusalem, a move not recognized by the majority of the international community. Palestinians want east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza, as part of a future Palestinian state.
Tensions in Jerusalem have been heightened since Ramadan began on April 12, particularly after Israel blocked off a popular spot where Muslims traditionally gather each night at the end of their daylong fast. Israel later removed the restrictions, but clashes continued.
According to Israeli police, the clashes began when Palestinian protesters threw stones at a gate that leads down to the Western Wall, where thousands of Jews had gathered to pray. The police then ordered forces to push back the protesters, police said.
“Extremist Palestinians planned well in advance to carry out riots today on the Temple Mount,” Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, along with photos of piles of rocks.