Gaza Conflict: Militant Rocket Targets Jerusalem

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GAZA – Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip say they have launched a rocket on Jerusalem – the first time the holy city has been targeted from Gaza.

Israel Army radio said the missile landed just outside the city – and there are no reported casualties. An earlier missile targeted Tel Aviv.

It comes amid mounting violence, following Israel’s killing of Hamas’s military chief on Wednesday. Egypt’s leader has vowed to back Gaza in the face of “blatant aggression”.

While considerable attention has focused on the long-range Palestinian rocket attacks against Tel Aviv – Israel’s largest population centre – this latest strike against Jerusalem once again raises the question of “red lines”.

If these attacks persist – and especially if they cause casualties – could this be the development that sparks an Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip? Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are roughly similar distances from Gaza suggesting that it is Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles that are being fired at the two cities.

Israeli commanders had confidently asserted after the first day of air strikes that they had destroyed the bulk of these longer-range missiles. There does not seem to be a huge appetite at the political level in Israel for a ground operation. But the preparations are in place. With the civilian casualty toll in Gaza rising, a resolution to this crisis seems as far away as ever.

Twenty Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since Wednesday.

Militants and civilians, including at least five children, were among the Palestinian dead, Palestinian officials said.

They include Hamas’s military leader Ahmed Jabari, killed by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday.

Two Israeli women and a man died when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a building in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday, Israeli officials said.

Before the recent upsurge, Israel had repeatedly carried out air strikes on Gaza, as Palestinian militants fired rockets across the border.

It is not clear if the rocket targeting Jerusalem was the same Iranian-built Fajr-5 launched towards Tel Aviv for the second day on Friday.

The rockets have an estimated range of 75km (45 miles).

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