Jerusalem’s air-raid siren system began going off at 9:58 p.m. local time. During Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, Jerusalem’s air-raid system was activated in response to an aerial attack for the first time ever, and rockets fired by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas hit inside the city. This time around, an attack targeted at Jerusalem also threatens to inflame an already tense confrontation between Israel and Hamas.
Crouching on the side of road with family.
— Michael Pitkowsky (@mpitkowsky) July 8, 2014
Reports: rocket sirens in Jerusalem follow two explosions – no siren – in tel aviv. #israel
— Brooklyn Middleton (@BklynMiddleton) July 8, 2014
House in Jerusalem hit by rocket. No injuries.
— Jonathan Schanzer (@JSchanzer) July 8, 2014
The Iron Dome missile defence system apparently intercepted at least a few of the rockets targeted at the city. Rockets reportedly landed on Bethlehem, a Palestinian Authority-controlled town just a few miles from Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries.
On a conference call with journalists earlier today, Israel Defence Forces colonel Peter Lerner said the IDF expected Hamas to strike at heavily populated areas relatively far from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. “We expect them to launch towards Tel Aviv,” Lerner said. “It’s something we’ve taken into consideration during this mission.”
Jerusalem has a population of nearly 1 million and is home to Israel’s parliament as well as most of its government ministries — in addition to some of the holiest sites in world religion. Even attempted rocket strikes on Jerusalem could be enough to persuade Israeli leaders to ramp up their operation in Gaza. Already, the IDF has mobilized tens of thousands of reservists and begun building up troops to provide the option of a future ground incursion.
So far, a reported 16 Gazans have been killed in Israeli countermeasures, which have included strikes on over 50 sites inside the Gaza Strip.
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