4 killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, militant commander among the dead

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – The Palestinian Ministry of Health said that four people were killed and 15 injured in the Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

The Islamic Jihad militant group said Taiseer al-Jabari, a senior commander, was among those killed.

Israel launched airstrikes on Friday after days of escalating tensions following the arrest of a top Islamic Jihadist militant in the occupied West Bank. Israel says it is targeting the group, raising fears of a new Gaza war.

THIS IS A LAST NEWS UPDATE. The previous story of the AP is below.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Israel launched a wave of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, saying it targeted the Islamic Jihad militant group in days of escalating tensions after a senior member of that group was arrested in the occupied West Bank. week.

It is not yet clear whether there were any casualties or injuries, but the attacks risk sparking another war in the region, which is run by the Islamic militant group Hamas and is home to nearly 2 million Palestinians.

On Friday afternoon, the sound of an explosion was heard in Gaza City, where smoke was rising from the seventh floor of a tall building.

The killing of a senior militant will likely be met with rocket fire from Gaza, bringing the region closer to all-out war.

The Israeli military said it targeted Islamic Jihad in an operation called “Breaking Dawn”. It also announced a “special situation” within the country where schools were closed and other activities were restricted in communities 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the border.

Earlier this week, Israel blocked roads around Gaza and sent reinforcements to the border as Israel prepared for a revenge attack following the arrest of the leader of Islamic Jihad in the occupied West Bank on Monday. A young member of the group was killed in a clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

Israel and Hamas have experienced four wars and several minor conflicts in the 15 years since the militant group seized power from rival Palestinian forces on the coastline. The most recent battle was in May 2021, and tensions rose again earlier this year after a wave of attacks inside Israel, near-daily military operations in the West Bank, and a flashpoint tension in Jerusalem’s holy site.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited communities near Gaza earlier on Friday, saying authorities were preparing “actions to remove the threat from this region.”

“We will act with internal resistance and external force to restore routine life in the south of Israel,” he said. “We do not seek conflict, but we will not hesitate to defend our citizens if necessary.”

“We are launching the struggle and the fighters of the Palestinian resistance must stand together against this aggression,” Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nahalah told Iran’s Al-Mayadeen TV channel. He said there would be no “red line” in the conflict and blamed Israel for the violence.

“The Israeli enemy, who has escalated tensions and committed a new crime against Gaza, must pay the price and take full responsibility,” Hamas spokesman Fevzi Barkhum said.

Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups oppose Israel’s existence and have carried out numerous deadly attacks over the years, including rocket launches into southern Israel. It is unclear how much control Hamas has over Islamic Jihad, and Israel blames Hamas for all attacks originating from Gaza.

Earlier on Friday, several hundred Israelis protested on Friday near the Gaza Strip to demand the extradition of the remains of a Hamas-held prisoner and two Israeli soldiers.

The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who was killed along with Oron Shaul in the 2014 Gaza war. Alongside two Israeli civilians believed to be mentally ill, who had fled to Gaza, Hamas hopes to exchange their remains for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Protesters crossed two police checkpoints on a road near the heavily guarded Gaza border and stopped at a third point.

They held a large banner demanding the return of the remains of the soldiers, as well as the Ethiopian-born Israeli Avraham Mengistu, in his late 20s or early 30s. Mengistu’s family joined the protest.

In June, Hamas released a rare video showing Israeli Arab citizen Hisham al-Sayid in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask and IV drip. He said his health had deteriorated recently. Journalists covering the protest made no mention of al-Sayid.

Israel and Egypt maintained a strict blockade over the region during this time. While Israel says the shutdown is necessary to prevent Hamas from developing its military capabilities, critics say the policy amounts to the collective punishment of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinians.

Israel said no major steps towards lifting the blockade could be taken until the remains of soldiers and captive civilians were released. Israel and Hamas held numerous talks under the mediation of Egypt on a possible exchange.


Associated Press correspondent Ariel Schalit of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Israel, and Joseph Krauss of Ottawa, Ontario contributed to this report.

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