IDF strikes Gaza after rocket launched at Israel amid Jerusalem unrest

A number of rioters were injured along the Gaza border as IDF soldiers responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Smoke rises after an explosion as Palestinians take part in a night protest held along the Gaza side of the border with Israel (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Smoke rises after an explosion as Palestinians take part in a night protest held along the Gaza side of the border with Israel
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
The Israeli Air Force struck a Hamas military site in the southern Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire earlier on Saturday night, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on Saturday night, amid riots along the Gaza border fence and in Jerusalem, according to the IDF. A rocket alert was sounded in an open area.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) decided on Sunday morning to freeze the entry permits of 350 Gazan businessmen into Israel until further notice after the tense night, a COGAT spokesperson explained. Entries from Gaza into Israel haven't been allowed due to COVID-19 and were supposed to start again on Sunday.
Earlier on Saturday night, a number of Palestinian rioters were injured during riots along the border of the coastal enclave, amid unrest in recent days around the Temple Mount and planned evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem.
According to Palestinian reports, the IDF responded to the rioters, who were referred to as the "night confusion units" by Palestinian media, by launching tear gas and firing rubber bullets. The protestors have used incendiary and explosive balloons in the past to disrupt the lives of Israeli citizens living near the Gaza border.
It remains unclear exactly how many rioters were injured and what condition they were in, but video footage from the scene showed ambulances arriving and at least one person who appeared to be unconscious. Initial reports indicated the injuries included one person injured by rubber bullets and a number of others who were short of breath due to tear gas.
Images and video from the riots showed Palestinians lighting large fires and throwing explosives at the border fence. Regional councils in Israeli communities near the border issued statements to residents, informing them that the explosions were occurring within Gaza and that the IDF had the situation under control.
Amid the unrest, the commander of the IDF's Gaza Division met with local authorities from communities bordering the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, according to Israeli media.
THE RIOTS come after a number of incendiary balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip in recent days and riots broke out in Jerusalem, amid protests against the planned eviction of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah homes.
At least 53 Palestinians were injured in riots on Saturday night, as 90,000 worshippers visited al-Aqsa.
An incendiary balloon from the Gaza Strip landed in the yard of a house in Moshav Zimrat on Saturday evening, N12 News reported. The family was at home when the incendiary balloon landed, according to the report.
At least three balloons were spotted in areas surrounding the Gaza Strip on Saturday, with two of them sparking fires.
Additionally on Saturday, Egypt called on Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to de-escalate tensions and on Israel to halt the Sheikh Jarrah evictions, according to Al-Arabiya.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman of Hamas's military wing the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, issued a short statement in support of the rioters in Jerusalem on Saturday night.
"We salute the steadfastness of our people stationed in Jerusalem and al-Aqsa, and we tell them that the Commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Muhammad al-Deif, has promised you and will not break his promise," he said.
Ubaida was referencing statements made by Deif last week, in which he stated: “This is our final warning. If the aggression against our people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood does not stop immediately, we will not stand idly by and the occupation will pay a heavy price.”
ON SATURDAY night, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist movement issued a statement in support of the Jerusalem rioters as well, warning Israel that "its criminal leaders must understand the message of the resistance leadership well."
The PIJ called on Palestinians to continue to clash with Israeli forces on Monday, when Israelis mark Jerusalem Day to celebrate the capture of the capital in 1967, so that "the enemy and everyone who supports it knows that the men of Al-Aqsa are the people of defiance and steadfastness."
Additionally on Saturday, PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah warned that what is happening in Jerusalem "cannot be tolerated" and that Israel should expect a response "at any moment."
The tensions also come as the IDF prepares to launch a massive, month-long exercise on Sunday called "Chariots of Fire." The exercise is set to be the largest ever carried out by the IDF and will simulate war on multiple fronts, including with Gaza and Hezbollah.
The Lebanese terrorist group has reportedly raised its alert level in southern Lebanon and Syria in light of the exercise. Sources who spoke with Lebanon's El-Nashra newspaper claimed that the level of alert was the highest since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Hezbollah officials reportedly fear that the exercise could be used to launch an attack, with the sources saying that it is being viewed as "extremely dangerous."
"Hezbollah warned against this maneuver because Israel worked during the past wars to take soldiers and personnel from the training fields to the field directly, and this is what is happening now at the southern front of Lebanon and the north of Palestine," the sources told El-Nashra.