The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is approaching a critical juncture as mass protests sweep across Jerusalem, Israeli forces carry out airstrikes in Gaza and waves of rockets continue to rain down on Israeli towns near the southern border. On Monday night, the Israeli military launched Operation Guardian of the Walls, a major offensive which as of Monday morning has already killed 15 Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives. There are also reports of civilian casualties, including nine children according to Palestinian officials. The operation was in response to a rocket attack by Hamas on Jerusalem, which caused no deaths or serious injuries but was regarded as a major provocation by Israel. Meanwhile, clashes at the ancient al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City, as well as in Damascus Gate and the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, have wounded hundreds of Palestinians and two dozen Israeli police officers.