Jerusalem [Israel], May 11 (ANI): At least 20 people were killed in Palestine after Israeli forces launched retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza Strip on Monday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
This comes after after Palestinian terror groups reportedly launched a massive barrage of rockets towards Israel.
This incident marks a major escalation of violence from the enclave signaling the possible start of a wider conflict, reported The Times of Israel.
The Hamas terror group allegedly fired seven projectiles towards Jerusalem, prompting retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). The Israeli military said that at least 11 out of 20 killed in the strikes were members of Hamas who had launched rockets at Israel.
"In the next few days, Hamas will feel the long arm of the [Israeli] army. It will not take a few minutes, it will take a few days," IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told reporters.
The spokesperson further said that the military was prepared for a wide range of possibilities, including a broader conflict with a ground operation, as well as a return to targeted killings of top terrorist leaders.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said the military would continue striking Hamas and other terrorists in the Strip until "long-term and complete quiet" was restored, reported The Times of Israel.
"The organisation and its leaders will be held responsible and pay the price for the aggression. And the offensive strikes are expected to continue until we meet the operative goals that we have set," he said.
Palestinian terror groups had earlier fired dozens of rockets at Israeli cities and towns near the Gaza border, including Ashkelon and Sderot, as well as smaller communities in the Sha'ar Hanegev region of southern Israel.
An anti-tank guided missile was also fired at an Israeli civilian's car that was traveling on a hill south of Sderot, lightly injuring him, the military said. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the attack and later released footage of the strike.
The IDF said it had also bombed two Hamas launchpads and two of its observation posts.
Meanwhile, US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar condemned Israel's air raids in Gaza, calling them 'act of terrorism'.
"Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism. Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defence programs, such as Iron Dome, do not exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It's unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid," he tweeted.
The country has been embroiled in conflict over the impending eviction of dozens of Palestinians from East Jerusalem's neighbourhood.
Over 70 Palestinians in total are set to be evicted from Sheikh Jarrah in the coming weeks to be replaced by right-wing Jewish Israelis. The Palestinians live in houses built on land that courts have ruled were owned by Jewish religious associations before the establishment of Israel in 1948, reported The Times of Israel.
Over 300 Palestinians have been injured in the riots, several of them seriously hurt by rubber-tipped bullets in the head, eye and jaw.
On Sunday, US National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan spoke to Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat to express the United States' serious concerns about the situation in Jerusalem, evictions of Palestinians, including violent confrontations at the Haram al-Sharif /Temple Mount during the last days of Ramazan. (ANI)