Middle East/North Africa

Videos of rockets from Gaza hitting Israel’s Iron Dome go viral

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday announced that its Iron Dome defense system had intercepted hundreds of rockets over Tel Aviv fired by Hamas, the latest in days of back-and-forth attacks in the area. 

Footage shared by the IDF on Twitter appeared to show the Iron Dome overwhelmed by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, which set off sirens across the city and forced the main international airport to close, according to The Associated Press

The IDF said in a later tweet that it had intercepted an additional barrage of rockets from Gaza toward the city of Ashkelon, adding that it was now striking Hamas targets in response.

The AP reported that one of the rockets hit a bus in Holon, a city just south of Tel Aviv, injuring at least four people, including a 5-year-old girl. 

Other reports from the Times of Israel noted that a woman was killed after a rocket strike in Rishon Lezion, south of Tel Aviv, and several others have been injured from the rockets. 

The escalation is considered to be some of the most intense fighting between Israel and Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, since their 2014 war.

According to the AP, Hamas said it had launched a total of 130 rockets in response to Israeli forces’ destruction of a 13-story building in Gaza earlier in the day.   

In video footage initially shared earlier Tuesday by a reporter for Israel’s public broadcasting network, Kan, the sound of an explosion can be heard before the building starts to collapse as dark smoke erupts from it. 

An IDF spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that forces had struck the multistory building, and a public statement released by the Israeli military said the structure had been targeted because it housed offices used by Hamas political leadership “including headquarters used for military research and development, military intelligence offices and more.” 

The press release said that the IDF “provided advance warning to civilians in the building and provided sufficient time for them to evacuate the site.”

According to the AP, Israeli drones fired a series of warning shots to urge people to leave the area, though Reuters noted that it was not immediately clear if the building had been completely evacuated at the time of the explosion. 

Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket attacks have intensified since Monday, with local health officials estimating that at least 28 Palestinians and two Israeli citizens have been killed amid the recent violence. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a press briefing Tuesday that the U.S. was “deeply concerned” about the escalation between Israel “and those launching rockets from Gaza,” adding that the Biden administrations calls “for restraint and for calm.”

“Israel has the right to defend itself and to respond to rocket attacks,” he continued. “The Palestinian people also have the right to safety and security, just as the Israelis do.” 

“We have called for restraint and deescalation in an effort to preserve civilian life and we recognize that Israelis have been killed, Palestinians have been killed,” he added, saying the U.S. is engaged with Israeli and Palestinian officials and international partners to calm tensions. 

“The loss of life of innocent Palestinian civilians, innocent Israelis, is something we deeply regret,” Price said. “It is precisely why we are doing everything we can, we are doing everything we can in coordination with our international partners to put an end to a cycle of escalation and a cycle of violence.”

Laura Kelly contributed to this report which was updated at 5:09 p.m.

Tags biden administration Hamas Iron Dome Israel Ned Price Palestinian-Israeli conflict Palestinians Reuters Rocket The Associated Press Twitter

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