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Israel attacks Gaza Strip following raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque

Palestinian Islamic Jihad launches rockets towards Israel after Al-Aqsa Mosque is raided by Israeli forces
Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City after the Israeli military struck the Palestinian enclave on April 5, 2023. (AFP)

Israel launched air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, after rockets were fired from the Palestinian enclave in the wake of the Israeli assault on Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. 

Israeli forces brutally assaulted dozens of Palestinian worshippers inside Al-Aqsa on Tuesday night and forcibly removed them from the site where they were peacefully observing the holy month of Ramadan. 

In response, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group launched a volley of 16-18 rockets towards Israel. Reports in Israeli media said that the Iron Dome system intercepted eight missiles.

The Israeli army said it had targeted a weapons factory and a weapons storage facility belonging to the PIJ. 

Explosions were heard across the Gaza Strip as a result of the bombing, which caused damage to Palestinian homes and property. 

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"The Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip this morning is a failed attempt to prevent Gaza from continuing its support by all means for our people in Jerusalem and the West Bank," the Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said.

Tensions rising

According to the Israeli news website Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper Israeli politicians are looking for ways to diffuse tensions on the eve of the Jewish holiday of passover.

Dozens of heavily armed officers stormed the site, used stun grenades and fired tear gas into the Qibli prayer hall, where hundreds of men, women, elderly people and children were staying overnight to pray. Some eyewitnesses said rubber-coated steel bullets were also fired. 

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Israeli officers then beat worshippers with batons and riot guns, wounding many, before arresting them. Their conditions were not immediately made clear. 

Videos from inside the mosque showed Israeli officers repeatedly hitting people with batons while they appeared to lie on the floor. Meanwhile, the cries for help from women and children could be heard in the background. 

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said it received multiple reports of injuries at Al-Aqsa Mosque but was unable to estimate the number of casualties as Israeli forces blocked medics from reaching the wounded.

One medic was attacked by an Israeli police officer and wounded outside one of the mosque's gates.  

A PRCS spokesperson said they were informed that those wounded in the raid have been evacuated but they don't know by who and where they were taken. 

Local media said dozens were wounded in the assault and the injuries have included bruises, fractures and breathlessness from inhaling tear gas. Some videos from the scene published online showed people apparently unconscious.

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