According to Palestinian sources, Israel launched a wave of airstrikes on Gaza on Friday that resulted in the deaths of at least eight persons, including a senior militant, and the injuries of another 40. Following the capture of a prominent militant in the occupied West Bank earlier this week, Israel claimed it was targeting the militant Islamic Jihad group in response to a “imminent threat.”
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza
The attacks run the possibility of starting yet another war in the region, which is governed by the Hamas-affiliated Islamic terrorist group and has around 2 million Palestinians. A prominent militant’s murder was likely to spark rocket fire from Gaza, bringing the two sides one step closer to full-scale war.
On Friday afternoon, smoke spilled out of the seventh level of a towering building as a detonation could be heard in Gaza City.
killed eight people, including a senior militant, and wounding another 40,
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said, “The Israeli government will not permit terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip to set the agenda in the territory adjacent to the Gaza Strip and harm the inhabitants of the State of Israel.” Anyone attempting to harm Israel should be aware that they will be found.
Lapid, who accepted the post of caretaker prime minister ahead of elections in November in which he aspires to retain the office, will face an early test as a result of the violence. Although he held the position of foreign minister in the previous administration, he has limited security experience.
Tensions continue to rise between Israel and Palestinian militant groups.
A 5-year-old child was among those murdered, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which confirmed the death toll. It was unclear if the others were civilians or militants.
Taiseer al-Jabari, the commander of Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza, was reportedly among those killed. He had replaced a militant who had been killed in an airstrike in 2019.
In front of the mortuary at Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital, a few hundred people gathered. Some people went inside to look for loved ones only to leave crying. One yelled, “May God avenge the spies!” (Palestinian informers who assist Israel), in reference to them.
“multiple attacks” on Israel
According to an Israeli military spokeswoman, two insurgent squads carrying anti-tank missiles posed a “imminent threat” that prompted the strikes. Al-Jabari was intentionally targeted, according to the spokesman, who talked to reporters under the condition of anonymity. He also admitted to launching “several assaults” against Israel.
In addition, the military declared a “special situation” at home, ordering the closure of schools and imposing restrictions on other activity in settlements up to 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the border.
In preparation for a retaliatory attack following the arrest of the Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank on Monday, Israel had earlier this week restricted the highways around Gaza and dispatched forces to the border.
Hamas, the militant group which controls Gaza
In the fifteen years since the militant organisation overthrew rival Palestinian forces in the coastal strip, Israel and Hamas have engaged in four major conflicts and a number of smaller clashes. The most recent war occurred in May 2021, and after a series of attacks inside Israel, nearly daily military operations in the West Bank, and tensions at a major holy site in Jerusalem, tensions erupted once more earlier this year.
Ziad al-Nakhalah, the leader of the Islamic Jihad, said, “The fighters of the Palestinian resistance have to stand united to combat this onslaught,” while speaking to the al-Mayadeen TV network from Iran. He promised “no red lines” and attributed the bloodshed to Israel.
“The Israeli enemy, who launched the escalation against Gaza and committed a fresh crime, must pay the price and carry full responsibility for it,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas.
Despite being smaller than Hamas, Islamic Jihad closely adheres to its ideology. Both organisations oppose Israel’s existence and have carried out a number of violent acts, including the firing of rockets into Israel, throughout the years. Uncertainty surrounds the extent of Hamas’ authority over Islamic Jihad, and Israel holds Hamas accountable for any assaults coming from Gaza.
Early on Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz travelled to villages close to Gaza and declared that authorities were getting ready to take “measures that would remove the threat from this region.”
Since Hamas took control in 2007, Israel and Egypt have maintained a strict blockade on the region.
The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin
Israel called off an expected fuel delivery for Gaza’s sole power plant, which was expected to shut down early Saturday if the fuel did not enter the territory. Even when the plant is running at full capacity, Gazans still endure daily power outages that last several hours.
Earlier Friday, a couple of hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip on Friday to demand the return of a captive and the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.
The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who along with Oron Shaul was killed in the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas is still holding their remains, as well as two Israeli civilians who strayed into Gaza and are believed to be mentally ill, hoping to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
There have been multiple rounds of negotiations between Israel and Hamas, mediated by the Egyptian government.
On a road close to the heavily guarded Gaza border, the protestors forced their way through two police checkpoints before pausing at a third.
They carried a large sign demanding the repatriation of the soldiers’ bodies as well as Israeli Avraham Mengistu, who is in his late 20s or early 30s and is of Ethiopian heritage. The rally was attended by members of Mengistu’s family.
A rare video showing Hisham al-Sayid, an Arab Israeli citizen, in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask and an IV drip was made public by Hamas in June. It said that his health had recently gotten worse. Al-Sayid was not mentioned at the protest, according to the journalists covering it.
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Israel claims that until the soldiers’ corpses and the kidnapped civilians are released, no significant steps can be taken to relieve the blockade. There have been multiple rounds of negotiations between Israel and Hamas, mediated by the Egyptian government.
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