On Thursday, the Palestinian armed group al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades announced in an official statement that its fighters fired several rockets from Gaza strip targeting Israeli settlements north of it. The statement was released by al-Nasser Salah al-Deen news agency “al-Buraq” and the armed group stressed that this is only the first response to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and warned that more will follow.
Meanwhile, the region continues to be on edge with widespread protests breaking out Thursday in response to Trump's Wednesday afternoon speech formally recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and included plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Many of these protests spiraled into violent confrontations at various locations across Israel and the Palestinian territories, including clashes between Arab protesters and Israeli soldiers in Ramallah and other places in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Protests frequently featured the burning of the American and Israeli flags as well as images of President Trump.
During the evening Thursday (local time), the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed the volley of rockets from the Gaza Strip, issuing a statement through the official IDF Twitter account, while also stating that the Israeli Army responded to the attack. "A short while ago, a projectile was fired from northern Gaza & exploded in southern Israel. In response to that fire & the projectiles fired at Israel throughout the day that fell short in Gaza, an IDF tank & an IAF aircraft targeted two terror posts in Gaza" the message stated.
Following the sirens that were sounded in Hof Ashkelon & Sha'ar HaNegev regional councils in southern Israel earlier this evening, 2 launches from Gaza towards Israel landed within the Gaza Strip
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) December 7, 2017
The IDF followed the message with a warning that it would hold Hamas directly responsible for all "hostile activity" and threats coming from Gaza: "The IDF holds Hamas responsible for the hostile activity perpetrated against Israel from the Gaza Strip."
The Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades rocket attack was likely coordinated with the Hamas Movement as the al-Nasser Brigades are one of the main allies of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Local sources from the Gaza Strip reported that Israeli warplanes are currently highly active over Gaza right now. The sources added that warplanes were seen dropping flares for unknown reasons.
The Israeli Army will likely respond to the Gaza rocket attack in the upcoming hours or overnight; however, unlike previous sporadic exchanges of fire, things are likely to escalate to a dangerous level due to the ongoing Jerusalem crisis.
The Israeli Army confirmed that at least two rockets targeted the settlements of Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar HaNegev north of Gaza Strip in southern Israel. Several Israel sources claimed that the Israeli anti-rocket system “Iron Dome” successfully intersected the rockets; however, the Israeli Army did not confirm these claims and there were no reports of casualties from the rocket strikes.
Previous to Trump's announcement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II had warned the president that the announcement would have “dangerous” repercussions for regional stability. Separately, the Palestinian delegate to the United Kingdom said on Wednesday that President Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel signals "a declaration of war" in the region. “He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims, hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel,” Manuel Hassassian told BBC 4 Radio's "Today."
The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state and fear that Trump’s declaration essentially imposes on them a disastrous solution for one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “There is no way that there can be talks with the Americans. The peace process is finished. They have already pre-empted the outcome,” said Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi. “They cannot take us for granted.” The U.S. decision “destroys the peace process,” added Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
As anger builds among Palestinians and within the broader Arab world, some observers fear that a third intifada could be imminent – this after Hamas leader Smail Haniyeh called for a new Palestinian intifada, or uprising early on Thursday.