Dozens of rockets fired at Israel from Gaza as protests continue

Ben Sales

(JTA) — More than 40 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza in recent days as protests over Ramadan restrictions have continued in the Old City of Jerusalem and a West Bank checkpoint.

While the rockets have been fired by smaller armed factions, the barrage has been endorsed by Hamas, the militant group governing Gaza. In a statement reported by the Times of Israel, Hamas told the smaller terror groups to “keep their fingers on the trigger.”

The groups say the rocket fire is in response to unrest in Jerusalem involving Palestinian protesters, far-right Jewish protesters and police. On Thursday, hundreds of far-right Jews marched on the Old City chanting racist slogans, where they clashed with Palestinian protesters and police in a night that saw arrests, violence and hospitalizations.

Palestinians have been protesting for about two weeks over restrictions on gathering at the Old City’s Damascus Gate during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Ten Palestinians were arrested in a small protest at the site on Saturday night, according to Haaretz. There was also a protest at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank.

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The unrest is spilling over into Israel’s ongoing political quagmire. Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right lawmaker and ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, lashed out at Netanyahu because of his response to Thursday’s violence. Netanyahu is currently trying to assemble a new coalition in order to remain prime minister.

After Netanyahu called for calm on “both sides,” Smotrich railed in a tweet against the “Arab enemy” and wrote regarding Netanyahu, “It may be that the time has really come to replace him.”