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Early Sunday, the Israeli military attacked targets in Syria in response to two sets of rocket attacks launched from Syria toward Israel. The rocket attacks came after days of escalating violence in Jerusalem, which began with an Israeli police raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. In the second set of rocket attacks, two rockets crossed the border into Israel, with one being intercepted and the second landing in an open area. The first attack occurred on Saturday, with one rocket landing in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights and fragments of another destroyed missile falling into Jordanian territory near the Syrian border. A Damascus-based Palestinian group, the Al-Quds Brigade, claimed responsibility for launching the three missiles on Saturday in retaliation for the police raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israel initially responded to the rocket attacks with artillery fire into the area in Syria where the rockets were fired from, but later said that fighter jets attacked Syrian army sites, including a compound of Syria’s 4th Division and radar and artillery posts. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, primarily to stop Iranian entrenchment in the country.

Before the latest strikes, Syrian officials had attributed 10 attacks to Israel this year, some of which put the Damascus and Aleppo airports temporarily out of service and killed civilians as well as Syrian soldiers and Iranian military advisers. In the same time period, Palestinian attacks on Israelis have killed 19 people, including two British-Israelis shot to death near a settlement in the Jordan Valley on Friday and an Italian tourist killed by a suspected car-ramming in Tel Aviv.

The rocket attacks from Syria occurred as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians were already high due to the Israeli police raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The raid sparked unrest in the contested capital and outrage across the Arab world. On Saturday, tensions ran high in Jerusalem as a few hundred Palestinian worshipers barricaded themselves in the mosque, which sits on a hilltop in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City sacred to both Muslims and Jews. Israeli police efforts to evict the worshipers who were locked in the mosque overnight with stockpiled firecrackers and stones spiraled into unrest in the holy site earlier this week.

In response to the rocket attacks from Syria and the ongoing violence in Jerusalem, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant extended a closure barring entrance to Israel for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for the duration of the Jewish holiday of Passover, while police beefed up forces in Jerusalem on the eve of sensitive religious celebrations.

Source: The Frontier Post

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