Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip have fired rockets toward Jerusalem after hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli police in the contested holy city.
The Israeli Knesset cancelled its session and evacuated members after rocket-warning sirens sounded in Jerusalem and several explosions were heard.
The rockets came minutes after an ultimatum from Gaza’s ruling Hamas group for Israel to withdraw forces from two flashpoints in the city went into effect.
Meanwhile, organisers of a Jewish nationalist march through the Old City have cancelled the event, citing police restrictions, but crowds will still gather at the Western Wall.
“The March of the Flags is cancelled,” said the Am Kalavi foundation which organises the “Jerusalem Day” procession annual Jerusalem Day Flag March marks the day East Jerusalem was illegally occupied in 1967 – a move not recognised by the majority of the international community.
The announcement came after police forced marchers to change their route and avoid entering the Old City through the flashpoint Damascus Gate.
The Jerusalem Day event marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem – home to the Old City and its holy sites – in 1967, and usually sees hundreds of flag-waving Israeli youth make their way through the Muslim Quarter via Damascus Gate, chanting and singing patriotic songs.
It is regarded by many Palestinians as a deliberate provocation. This year’s march is also taking place in the final days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The past few days have seen the worst violence in the city for years.
More than 300 Palestinians were wounded in the confrontations with Israeli police outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem.
The latest violence follows days of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem, with the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes there by Jewish settlers a focal point for Palestinian anger.
Israel’s Supreme Court had been due to hold a hearing in the long-running case on Monday, but the session was postponed due to the trouble.