GAZA CITY: Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, killing more than 15 people, including a senior militant, and wounding another 40, according to Palestinian officials.
Israel said it was targeting the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the arrest of a senior militant in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.
The strikes risk igniting yet another war in the territory, which is ruled by the militant group Hamas and is home to about 2 million Palestinians.
The assassination of a senior militant would likely be met by rocket fire from Gaza, pushing the region closer to all-out war.
A blast could be heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall building on Friday afternoon. “The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to set the agenda in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement. “Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know: We will find you.”
The Palestinian Health Ministry said the victims included a five-year-old girl.
Islamic Jihad said Taiseer Al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was among those killed. He had succeeded another militant killed in an airstrike in 2019.
A few hundred people gathered outside the morgue at Gaza City’s main Shifa Hospital. Some entered to identify loved ones, only to emerge in tears. One shouted: “May God take revenge against spies,” referring to Palestinian informants who cooperate with Israel.
An Israeli military spokesman said it launched the strikes in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles that were making aggressive movements.
The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said Al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and had been responsible for “multiple attacks” on Israel.
The military said it was targeting Islamic Jihad in an operation named “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 km of the border.
Israel had closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it braced for a revenge attack after the arrest of the Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Al-Nakhalah, speaking to the Al-Mayadeen TV network from Iran, said “we are starting the fight, and the fighters of the Palestinian resistance have to stand together to confront this aggression.”
He said there would be “no red lines” in the confrontation and blamed the violence on Israel.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, who started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it.”
Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups are opposed to Israel’s existence and have carried out scores of deadly attacks over the years, including the firing of rockets into southern Israel. It’s unclear how much control Hamas has over Islamic Jihad, and Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited communities near Gaza earlier on Friday, saying authorities were preparing “actions that will remove the threat from this region,” without elaborating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.