Palestinian militants respond with rockets after Israel hits Gaza with deadly strikes
According to Palestinian officials, Israel launched a wave of air strikes on Gaza on Friday, killing at least 10 people, including a senior fighter, and wounding dozens. Israel said it was targeting the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the arrest of a senior fighter in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.
Palestinian militants launched a salvo of rockets hours later as air raid sirens sounded over central and southern Israel, bringing the sides closer to full-scale war. Islamic Jihad claims to have fired 100 rockets.
The attacks risked sparking another war in the territory. Israel’s Hamas rulers and Gaza militia have fought four wars and several smaller ones over the past 15 years, at a staggering cost to the territory’s two million Palestinian residents.
An explosion could be heard in Gaza City, where smoke billowed from the seventh floor of a high-rise building. Meanwhile, several hundred people gathered outside the morgue at Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital. Some step in to identify loved ones, only to emerge in tears.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among the dead and 55 others were injured. It does not distinguish between civilians and militia. The Israeli military said the initial estimate was that about 15 fighters were killed.
Islamic Jihad said Taiseer al-Jabari, its commander in northern Gaza, was killed in the airstrikes. As mourners prepared to hold funerals for those killed in the attacks, hundreds of people – some waving Palestinian flags – marched through the streets of Gaza.
Israel says air strikes targeted militant group
The Israeli military says it is targeting the jihadist organization in an operation called “Breaking Dawn”. It also announced a “special situation” on the home front, with schools closed and limits placed on other activities in communities within 80 kilometers of the border.
Israel closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it prepares for a revenge attack following the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad leader in Israel. The West Bank was occupied on Monday.
In a nationally televised address Friday night, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country had launched attacks based on “specific threats.”
“This government has a zero-tolerance policy against any attack – of any kind – from Gaza to Israeli territory,” Lapid said. He added that “Israel is not interested in a broader conflict in Gaza, but also will not shy away from one.”
We have not yet been able to recreate what Israel destroyed a year ago.– Mansour Mohammed-Ahmed, 43 years old, farmer
The leader of the Islamic Jihad group Ziad al-Nakhalah, speaking to the al-Mayadeen television network from Iran, said “we are starting the war and the fighters of the Palestinian resistance must stand together to confront this aggression.”
He said there would be no “red lines” in the confrontation and blamed Israel.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “The enemies of Israel, who started the escalation against Gaza and committed new crimes, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it.”
Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares the same ideology. Both groups oppose the existence of Israel and have carried out numerous attacks over the years, including firing rockets into southern Israel.
No ‘chance to breathe’ since last year’s fight
Israel’s most recent war with Hamas in Gaza was in May 2021, and tensions spiked again earlier this year following a wave of attacks inside Israel, with near-daily military operations in Israel. West Bank and tensions in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Mansour Mohammad-Ahmed, 43, a farmer in the central region, said: “We still have not been able to recreate what Israel destroyed a year ago. Gaza.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade of Gaza since Hamas took over 15 years ago. Israel says the shutdown is necessary to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy leads to collective punishment.
Mohammed Abu Selmia, director of Shifa hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, said hospitals faced shortages of drugs after Israel imposed a complete shutdown on Gaza earlier this week. He said there are enough supplies and essential drugs to sustain hospitals for five days in normal times but with a new wave of fighting underway, “they could run out at any moment.”
Earlier, on Friday, several hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip to demand the return of a captive and the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.