A number of roads and train lines in southern Israel were closed due to security concerns.
The IDF warned Hamas that all options, including a ground operation, were on the table after over 160 rockets were fired towards Jerusalem and southern Israel as thousands of Israelis were parading through downtown to celebrate Jerusalem Day.
Following the rocket fire, the Israel Air Force carried out several strikes in Gaza, killing at least 8 Hamas militants and targeting rocket launchers and two military positions. Palestinian media reported that 20 people had been killed including nine children and another 95 wounded.
Three children were killed in Beit Hanoun but it is unclear if it was due to an Israeli Air Force strike or the failure of a rocket launched from Gaza.
Hamas had threatened Israel earlier in the day that it would launch the rockets due to the ongoing clashes in Jerusalem and shortly after 6 p.m. seven rockets were fired towards the capital.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Monday night that “Jerusalem has called and Gaza has responded. We will continue as long as Israel does not stop the aggression and terrorism in Jerusalem and at the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Around midnight on Monday night, a Hamas spokesman threatened to launch a large-scale attack on Israel if police forces do not evacuate from the Temple Mount compound before 2 a.m..
Palestinian Islamic Jihad releases footage of a ATGM strike on a civilian vehicle
The spokesman said around two hours later that the terror group had suspended the planned large-scale attack on Israel, claiming that Israeli police responded to the ultimatum.
Israel Police has not yet confirmed that forces have left the compound, or if such a move happened in response to the ultimatum set by Hamas.
The IDF said that one was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Another struck an empty house in a community near Jerusalem. Dozens of rockets were also fired towards Sderot, Ashkelon and neighboring communities as well.
Another rocket hit a house in Nir Am, in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, shortly after midnight on Monday night. No injuries were reported.
An anti-tank guided missile also struck a civilian vehicle near Sderot, causing light injuries to the driver who was just several meters from his vehicle. He was transferred to hospital for medical treatment.
According to reports, Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired the ATGM. In May 2019 the group fired another towards another civilian vehicle killing 64-year-old Moshe Feder from Kfar Saba.
IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said that the combined rocket attacks towards Jerusalem, Gaza border communities and the anti-tank guided missile that hit a civilian vehicle “is a significant event that won’t go by quietly.”
According to Zilberman, “Hamas will feel our response to this event…it will not last several minutes, but days.”
Calling it an “inexcusable event,” Zilberman warned that “If Hamas doesn’t understand it yet, they will understand after what we do. We have a number of options on the table.”
Following a security assessment and cabinet discussion regarding the rocket fire, Defense Minister Benny Gantz declared a special situation on the home front within a range of 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip for the next 48 hours. The cities of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Bnei Brak, Givatayin and Ramat Gan all opened their public bomb shelters.
The Home Front Command issued new directives for the Dan and Shfela regions, with residents able to meet in open areas in groups of 30 and in closed areas in groups of 50. Buildings operating on the Green Pass system can have 300 people. Workplaces and schools can continue to function as long as there is a shelter nearby.
Residents in the southern Shfela region, the Merkaz Hanegev region, the Lachish region, the Maarav Negev region, the Maarav Lachish region and the Gaza border communities are able to gather up to 10 people in open area and up to 50 people in closed buildings. Buildings functioning on the Green Pass system can have up to 100 people in them. Workplaces can continue to function as long as there is a shelter nearby. School and non-formal education in these areas has been canceled.
The municipalities of Rishon Lezion, Holon, Bat Yam, Rehovot, Lod and Ness Ziona have also decided to cancel studies for Tuesday. The Givatayim Municipality announced that they would update parents regarding the school situation by 7 a.m. on Tuesday.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rocket fire saying that it was “in response to [Israeli] crimes and aggression against the holy city and harassment of our people in Sheikh Jarrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and this is a message that the enemy should understand well.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhaleh said late on Monday night that “Israel started the aggression against Jerusalem. If this aggression is not stopped – then there is no point in the political efforts to reach a ceasefire.”
The defense establishment had been concerned about rocket fire towards Israel, specifically towards the center of the country. Earlier on Monday, the IDF sent reinforcements, closed roads and postponed its largest drill in its history following the current tensions in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Following the rocket fire, the Ashkelon Municipality along with Kiryat Malachi announced that they were opening bomb shelters in the city, despite no official order from Home Front Command to do so.
Barzilay Medical Center in Ashkelon began preparing on Monday evening to transfer patients and medical staff to their emergency underground facility.
The IDF closed a number of roads near the Gaza border and instructed farmers to stop all work near the border on Monday afternoon. Additionally, train traffic between Ashkelon and Beersheba and to Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim was temporarily halted on Monday afternoon after orders by security officials.
The Shaar Hanegev Regional Council announced that it would be cancelling all extracurricular activities in the council.
Later on Monday the Homefront Command ordered schools to close and limit gatherings to 10 people outdoors within 20 kilometers of the Strip. Businesses are only allowed to open if they have bomb shelters that are easily reachable.
An IDF drill, known as “Chariots of Fire,” which was meant to be the military’s largest exercise and would have involved all units of the IDF was postponed. Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi ordered the IDF to focus its efforts on preparation and readiness for the possible scenarios of escalating [violence],” the military said in a statement.
The military has also sent reinforcements from the elite Maglan commando unit and two training companies from the IDF Officer’s School to the Gaza Division.
On Monday afternoon Abu Ubaida, the spokesman of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, warned that the terrorist groups in Gaza were giving Israel until 6 p.m. to withdraw security forces from the Temple Mount and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and to release all those detained in the recent clashes.
Earlier in the day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gantz were briefed on the current security situation by senior security officials including IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, the head of the Shin Bet Nadav Argaman, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana and others.
Three rockets were launched on Monday morning towards the college town of Sderot and neighboring communities around 6.20 a.m., and at least one was successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
Following the rocket-fire, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj.-Gen. Rassan Alian announced the immediate closure of the Erez and Kerem Shalom Crossings until further notice, except for humanitarian and exceptional cases.
The move follows the decision yesterday to close the fishing zone, and in response to the continued launching of rockets and incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip.
“The Hamas terrorist organization is accountable for all that is done in and from the Gaza Strip toward the State of Israel, and it will therefore bear the consequences for the violence committed against the country’s citizens,” COGAT said in a statement.
Terror groups in Gaza threatened to escalate their attacks in response. On Monday some 10 fires were sparked in the south by incendiary aerial devices.
In a message posted on COGAT’s Facebook page, Alian said that “Israel will not stand for any disruption of the safety, the law and order, and the stability of security. It is not violence and terrorism that should be dominating the agenda, but the economic and social welfare of the residents”
Alian reiterated remarks made earlier that Israel “is committed” to allow freedom of worship in Jerusalem but would not allow violence and the violation of law and order. There is a difference between freedom of worship and “unbridled” violence and terrorism, he said.
“Some of the participants believe sincerely that they are protecting the holy sites. But in fact, they are defiling them during the blessed month of Ramadan and on Qadr Night (Laylat al-Qadr). The participants are being cynically incited and exploited by those who are trying to escalate and inflame the situation, using violent and inciteful rhetoric on social and mainstream media,” he said.
“I must remind you that while the coronavirus is not yet behind us and its economic ramifications are still felt in almost every Palestinian home, there are those who are already sabotaging attempts at returning to normal life. Let it be clear that there will be difficulty in advancing any civilian measures taken to ease restrictions, as long as the violence persists. It is not violence and terrorism that should be dominating the agenda, but the economic and social welfare of the residents,” he continued, adding “let us give the holiday its proper respect. Let us keep the peace and celebrate, rather than battle. Let us pray and sanctify these special days rather than allowing inciters to dominate us and wreak violence.”