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Nov 16, 2012 | 16:48 GMT

Jerusalem Targeted by Gaza Rocket

Jerusalem Struck by Gaza Rocket
GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images

Israel Defense Forces has confirmed that rocket fire from the Gaza Strip has landed in the Jerusalem area — a rocket hit the Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, just to the south of the city. 

Further accounts have reported that three rockets landed some 18 kilometers (11 miles) west of Jerusalem's city center, near the suburb of Mevaseret Zion. Israel's parliament building, the Knesset, is even closer (just 13 kilometers) to the area of impact sites and may have been the ultimate target of this strike. 

Regardless of the exact location of the impact sites, the rocket fire is a clear escalation of the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas. It comes on the third day of a conflict that already has seen multiple rockets fired at Tel Aviv, a redline in its own right.

Visit our Israel page for related analysis, videos, situation reports and maps.

If the Jerusalem area continues to be targeted, it would signify that Hamas has decided to double down and continue the fight. Strikes on Tel Aviv target Israel's major population and commercial hub. If continued, such strikes all but guarantee an Israeli ground operation in the Gaza Strip. A strike on Jerusalem raises the stakes even further. 

The Knesset sits on the western flank of the city along with other government installations. The ancient Old City of Jerusalem, home to some of the world's holiest shrines — including the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock — is just a few kilometers eastward. East Jerusalem, just beyond the gates of the Old City, is a large Palestinian population center and entryway into the West Bank. 

Given the inaccuracy of even the longer-range Fajr rockets, firing in the direction of Jerusalem is an extremely risky maneuver. It is here that the geographic realities of the Middle East truly collide: A gust of wind could mean the difference between a direct hit on an Israeli government building, a Palestinian neighborhood or an Islamic holy site.

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