Israeli strikes kill two Hamas men after Gaza rocket attack


Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Israeli airstrikes killed two Hamas members early Saturday after a rocket attack on Israel, in the latest fallout from President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a development that has roiled the region and the larger Muslim world.

The Israeli military said it targeted four Hamas facilities in response to rockets fired the previous night, including one that landed in the town of Sderot without causing casualties or major damage. The military said it struck warehouses and weapons manufacturing sites, after which Hamas said it had recovered the bodies of two of its men.

Israel considers Hamas responsible for all rocket fire emanating from Gaza, which is home to other armed groups. Some residents of Sderot and other border towns spent the night in shelters, fearful of a resumption of rocket attacks from Gaza that have led to three Israel-Hamas wars over the past decade.

Protests and demonstrations continued across the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday on the third and final so-called Palestinian “day of rage” following Trump’s announcement. The military said there were clashes in some 20 locations. In Bethlehem, Palestinians hurled stones at Israeli troops, who responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. The Israeli military said some 600 Palestinians were throwing firebombs and rolling burning tires toward Israeli forces. It said it dispersed the crowds and arrested six rioters.

Along the border with the Gaza Strip, some 450 Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops at eight main locations. About 20 were wounded. Some 4,000 demonstrators gathered in Gaza City, and demonstrations resumed in Pakistan, Turkey and elsewhere across the Muslim world as well.

In Jerusalem, police forces – some on horseback – scuffled with protesters near the Old City and arrested 13 people who were involved in what they called an illegal protest. Four policemen were slightly injured.

“President Trump cannot take what he doesn’t have,” said Zuheir Dana, one of the protesters from east Jerusalem.

In a first, violence spilled into Israel itself, with Arab protesters blocking a major highway in the northern part of the country and hurling rocks at a bus and motorcycle rider, injuring two slightly. Israel has mobilized troops in case further violence breaks out. However, the clashes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem have yet to claim lives or spiral into the level of violence some had feared following Trump’s move.

Saturday saw a drop in the scope of the protests after clashes erupted Friday between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops in dozens of West Bank hotspots and along the Gaza border. Two Palestinians were shot dead in Gaza and dozens were wounded in the West Bank.

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