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Israeli war planes strike besieged Gaza for second time this week

Hamas says attack will only encourage Palestinians to 'resist the occupation and step up their support for Jerusalem and its people'
Flames and smoke rise during Israeli airstrikes on central Gaza strip in the early hours of 21 April 2022 (AFP)

Israel carried out air strikes in central Gaza before dawn on Thursday after a rocket launched from the Palestinian territory landed in Israel, Hamas officials and Israeli military sources said.

The planes struck an underground site used to produce rocket engines, the Israeli military said in a statement.

Earlier, a rocket fired from Gaza struck southern Israel, causing slight damage to a house but no injuries, police said. 

Israeli police restrict unauthorised far-right march in Jerusalem
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In a statement, Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, said Israel's bombing will only encourage Palestinians to "resist the occupation and step up their support for Jerusalem and its people".

Israel's attack followed its bombing of Gaza on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Israeli police blocked a route towards Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem as hundreds of far-right activists defied police orders and began an unauthorised march toward the Old City's Muslim Quarter.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right Israeli Knesset member, was present at the march despite being forbidden by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett from visiting Damascus Gate.

Hamas had responded to the march by warning that Israel should bear full responsibility for the consequences of what it called dangerous and provocative moves.

The march comes amidst heightened tensions in Jerusalem, with Israeli forces storming al-Aqsa Mosque five times this month.

Early on Wednesday, Israeli forces stormed al-Aqsa again, fired rubber-coated metal bullets at Palestinians, locked worshippers in prayer halls, surrounded women in front of the Dome of the Rock, and forcibly removed Palestinians from the mosque’s courtyard to clear the way for Jewish settlers. 

Tensions this year have been heightened in part by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish celebration of Passover.