Israel carries out air strikes in blockaded Gaza, witnesses and its governing Hamas say, as tensions over the storming of Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli troops refuse to ebb.

Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes in southern Gaza, on April 19, 2022.
Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes in southern Gaza, on April 19, 2022. (Reuters)

Israeli warplanes have bombed the blockaded Palestinian enclave of Gaza in midnight raids, local media and witnesses said, the first such attack in months as the storming of Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli troops and renewed protests there drew an angry reaction from Jordan and US mediation efforts.

Israeli aircraft hit the southern Gaza, witnesses said early on Tuesday, while the armed wing of Hamas, which governs the besieged enclave, announced that it fired on Israeli warplanes.

"Congratulations to the men of the resistance who confronted the fighter jets with our anti-aircraft defence," Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said in a statement, claiming the Israeli raid hit "empty sites".

Israeli raid on Gaza comes after the Israeli military claimed to have intercepted a rocket that it said was fired from Gaza on Monday. 

"In response to this attack," the Israeli army said its jets struck Hamas weapons manufacturing site in the Gaza. 

No casualties or injuries were reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Tension has mounted across the Palestinian territories since Israeli forces raided the Al Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, sparking days of protests in which some 170 Palestinians have been wounded and raising fears of a wider conflict in Gaza. 

Palestinians accuse Israel of encroaching on Al Aqsa during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israel says Palestinian protesters seek to prevent visits by Jews, who are now celebrating Passover.

On Monday, hundreds of illegal Israeli settlers, backed by Israeli troops, forced their way into the Al Aqsa Mosque complex, a Palestinian agency reported. 

READ MORE: Israeli troops target worshippers in Al Aqsa Mosque attack, scores injured

Jordan hails Palestinian protesters 

The tensions complicate Israel's security ties with Jordan, which is the custodian of Al Aqsa and has a Palestinian majority.

Jordan's King Abdullah told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Israel's Al Aqsa policy "seriously undermines" chances of it making peace with the Palestinians, Amman said. Jordan also summoned Israel's acting ambassador for a reprimand.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al Khasawneh told parliament: "I must laud ... those throwing their stones at all of those Zionists who desecrate Al Aqsa mosque with the protection of the Israeli occupation government."

Many lawmakers demanded Jordon expel the Israeli envoy from the Arab country. 

"I view with gravity the statements blaming Israel for the violence that we are being subjected to. Some are encouraging stone-throwing," Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a video statement issued after Al Khasawneh's televised remarks.

In Washington, the State Department said US officials engaged in phone calls with Israelis, Palestinians and Arab representatives over the weekend in an effort to prevent an escalation of the Jerusalem tensions.

READ MORE: Settlers storm Al Aqsa compound as Israeli police force worshippers out

Al Aqsa Mosque is the world's third-holiest site for Muslims. 

Jews call the area the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al Aqsa is located, during the 1967 war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognised by the international community.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies