Photo Credit: Atia Mohammed / Flash 90
Rocket fire launched from Gaza in a Hamas exercise, April 24, 2021.

A barrage of rocket fire was aimed at the Israeli capital city of Jerusalem late Monday afternoon. The Red Alert incoming rocket siren was also triggered in Beit Shemesh, and central and southern Israel.

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Arabs standing at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem began to cheer and clap in unison to the sound of Red Alert sirens that wailed through the city.

The IDF Home Front Command said in instructions to civilians that they are to avoid entering forbidden areas and listen to updated guidance from the military.

School was canceled for Tuesday in areas around the Gaza border, the western and central Negev, the southern Shefela region and Lachish. School was also canceled in Be’er Sheva.

More than seven missiles were fired at Israeli residents, including a number aimed at central Israeli and southern Jewish communities near the Gaza border.

The Israeli Knesset was evacuated in response to the rocket fire (and returned a short time later). Jerusalem Police ordered an end to the annual Jerusalem Day Flag Dance March taking place in the capital. As with the Knesset, participants in the Flag Dance parade resumed their march a short time later.

One rocket reportedly landed in an open field near Moshav Beit Nekofa on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

For the first time in years, the Western Wall was closed and everyone present was evacuated by police after the Red Alert was triggered in the holy city. Israel Police told JewishPress.com that authorities were “shutting down everything because of the rockets.”

The Iron Dome anti-missile defense system intercepted two rockets. A 49-year-old man in Sderot sustained shrapnel wounds to his face and extremities, according to the Magen David Adom emergency medical service. There were also a number of “stress victims” being treated by MDA EMTs and paramedics.

An uninhabited building was hit by one of the rockets and a fire broke out in a separate attack that struck another community.

One a civilian vehicle was set afire by an anti-tank missile reportedly fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization. The attack was located near the southern city of Sderot; miraculously no physical injuries were reported, according to local sources.

Public shelters were opened in the coastal city of Ashkelon and the Negev capital of Be’er Sheva. Air traffic was redirected towards the northern part of Ben Gurion International Airport and away from flight paths towards Gaza.

Roads around the Gaza border were closed earlier in the day, and Israel Railway service between Ashkelon and Be’er Shev was halted.

Terrorist snipers also fired at an IDF military vehicle patrolling the Gaza border area.

The Izz a-Din al-Qassam military wing of Hamas issued a statement saying that the rocket fire was launched at Jerusalem in response to Israel’s “crimes and aggression in the Holy City, and its harassment of our people in Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The attacks are taking place as the Israeli security cabinet approves a “broad IDF operation” against the terrorists in Gaza, and after the IDF announced the postponement of the largest military exercise in Israel’s history — “Chariots of Fire” — that was to simulate a month of war for the first time in the country.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.