Israeli forces and Palestinian militant factions in the Gaza Strip have been engaged in their heaviest exchange of fire this week since the 2014 Gaza War. A heavy barrage of Israeli airstrikes has killed at least 83 people thus far in Gaza, including 17 children, while authorities in Israel have reported seven fatalities due to Palestinian rocket attacks. Among them was a 6-year-old child. Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations are all working to broker a cease-fire, but there is no indication yet of an end to the violence, with potentially far-reaching implications across the region.
The conflict follows weeks of escalating tensions in anticipation of a now-delayed Israeli Supreme Court ruling on whether six Palestinian families could be evicted from their homes in the historic Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem to make way for Israeli settlers.
The case had sparked daily mass protests, which often turned violent as Israeli police forcibly dispersed the crowds. Last Friday, more than 170 Palestinians were injured as security forces broke up a demonstration at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam. Israeli police raided the mosque again in the early morning hours of Monday, one of the final days of Ramadan, injuring hundreds more protesters, many of whom fought back by throwing stones and other objects. Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, responded by launching rockets at Israeli cities.