Israel’s military says it has killed a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza, after rockets fired from the territory killed two women in southern Israel.
Two women in southern Israel were killed in rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip
Israel said it had killed a key Palestinian rocket commander
The military escalation follows days of clashes at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem
The latest violence came the day after militants in Gaza fired rockets at Jerusalem amid soaring tensions after days of clashes at an iconic mosque in the holy city.
Israel said the man it targeted was the head of the Islamic Jihad’s rocket unit, and identified him as Samih al-Mamluk.
The military said other senior militants in the organisation were also killed in the same strike.
Islamic Jihad confirmed the three killed in an airstrike on an apartment in Gaza City were senior members of its armed wing.
The militant group vowed retaliation.
Hundreds of mourners later lined Gaza streets to mourn the three men.
Earlier rockets fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip killed two women in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, according to the head of the Magen David ambulance service.
The two were killed in two separate strikes that hit two houses in the city.
Israeli media reported one of the victims was an 80-year-old woman.
Responding to the latest rocket attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would step up its attacks on Gaza.
Rubble littered some Gaza streets early on Tuesday following a series of Israeli airstrikes on Monday.
This round of violence, like previous ones, is being fuelled by conflicting claims over Jerusalem, home to major holy sites of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
By Tuesday morning, Hamas and other Gaza militants had fired more than 200 rockets into Israel.
The Israeli military said it had carried out dozens of air strikes, targeting what it said were Hamas military installations and operatives, killing 15 militants.
Dozens of rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.
More than 700 Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and across the West Bank in 24 hours, including nearly 500 who were treated at hospitals. The Israeli military said six Israeli civilians were hurt by rocket fire.
Islamic nations form united front
In response to the incidents a gathering of representatives of Muslim nations condemned Israel for the outbreak of violence in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.
The emergency meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation was held on Tuesday to present a unified response from the Muslim world.
In a communiqué, they denounced Israel’s “continuous violations” of the mosque, “barbaric attacks” against worshippers and movement restrictions on Palestinians at the compound.
It called on the international community to hold Israel liable for the escalation and to press it to halt attacks that threaten “the security and stability of the region.” It also reaffirmed the long-standing Arab stance of support for an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.