Militants fired at least 35 rockets into Israel amid clashes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Sunset is seen above Gaza sea Friday, amid COVID-19 lockdown during the Ramadan in Gaza City. Photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA-EFE
April 24 (UPI) -- Militants fired at least 35 rockets into Israel from Gaza early Friday amid clashes between far-right Jewish Israelis and police in Jerusalem.
A small military group affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the rockets, which caused no injuries, The Guardian reported. In retaliatory strikes, Israel used fighter jets and attack helicopters.
Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rockets, but its armed wing expressed support for east Jerusalem Palestinians in a statement to The Guardian.
"The spark you light today will be the wick of the explosion to come in the face of the enemy," the statement said.
Still, Israel said its air force bombed several "military targets in the Gaza Strip" belonging to Hamas, a militant Islamist group inside Gaza.
Tensions had been flaring since far-right Jewish groups chanted "death to Arabs," and confronted Palestinians and riot police in a march in city streets Thursday night, according to The Guardian. Riot police tried to intervene to separate the two sides, but Palestinian medics said clashes resulted in 100 people injured, including 21 taken to the hospital.
Fifty people were arrested by the end of the night, Israeli police said, but did not specify whether they were Israelis or Palestinians.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the anti-Arab rhetoric and violence.
"We are deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in Jerusalem," Price tweeted Friday. "The rhetoric of extremist protestors chanting hateful and violent slogans must be firmly rejected. We call for calm and unity, and urge authorities to ensure the safety, security, and rights of all in Jerusalem."
Thursday's march was organized by the far-right, anti-Arab group Lehava, and stones were thrown at police throughout the night, Haaretz reported. The march followed violent assaults early in the week on Israeli Arabs and Palestinian residents of central Jerusalem, and TikTok video posts of assaults on Jews around Damascus Gate area. Multiple clashes have also occurred in the past week between Palestinians and police over Israel's decision to put up barriers preventing people from sitting in the public area during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Palestinians have accused Israeli police of brutality in responding to protests over COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings during the holy month.