Israeli and Gaza militants open fire after deadly attacks

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Israeli jets launched rockets into southern Israel early Saturday hours after a wave of Israeli airstrikes on the coastal enclave killed at least 10 people, including a senior militant and 5 others. hit militant targets in Gaza because it was raining. year old girl.

The clashes that began on Friday, when Israel dramatically targeted and killed a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, continued through the night and brought the sides closer to an all-out war.

However, the Hamas rulers of the region stayed out of the conflict, keeping the intensity of the conflict somewhat under control for the time being. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several minor wars over the past 15 years, at a staggering cost to the region’s 2 million Palestinian residents.

The latest round of Israeli-Gaza violence has been ignited this week when a top Islamic Jihad leader was arrested in the West Bank as part of a month-long Israeli military operation in the region. Citing a security threat, Israel blocked roads around the Gaza Strip and killed the militant leader in a targeted attack on Friday.

An explosion sounded from the seventh floor of a tall building in Gaza, with smoke rising. Video released by the Israeli military shows airstrikes blowing up three guard towers suspected of being militants inside.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a speech broadcast on national television on Friday that his country launched the attacks based on “concrete threats”.

“This government has a policy of zero tolerance for any attempt to attack Israeli territory from Gaza,” Lapid said. “Israel will not sit idly by while there are those who try to harm its civilians.”

“Israel is not interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but it will not shy away from one,” he said. added.

The violence is an early test for Lapid, who takes over as interim prime minister ahead of November’s elections, which he hopes to retain.

Lapid, a centrist former TV presenter and writer, has diplomatic experience who served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, but is weak on security. A conflict with Gaza could brighten his stance and bolster him as he faces off against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a security hawk who has led the country in three of his four wars with Hamas.

Hamas also faces a dilemma about whether to join a new war just a year after the last war caused widespread destruction. There has been hardly any rebuilding since then, and the isolated coastal region is in poverty and unemployment hovers around 50%.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among those killed in Gaza, without distinguishing between civilian and militant casualties. The Israeli military said early estimates were about 15 fighters killed. Dozens of people were injured.

Islamic Jihad said its commander in northern Gaza, Taiseer al-Jabari, was among the dead. He had replaced another militant killed in an airstrike in 2019.

An Israeli military spokesman said the attacks were carried out in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles. Briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, the spokesman said al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and was responsible for “multiple attacks” against Israel.

Hundreds marched in a funeral for himself and others who were killed, along with many mourners waving Palestinian and Islamic Jihad flags and calling for revenge.

Israeli media showed that the sky above southern and central Israel was lit up by rockets and interceptors from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. It was not immediately clear how many rockets were launched, and no immediate statement was made as to whether there were any casualties on the Israeli side.

In one night, Israel struck rocket launchers, rocket construction sites, and Islamic Jihad positions.

“The launching of rockets must be stopped immediately and I urge all parties to avoid further escalation,” said Tor Wennesland, the UN’s special envoy for the region.

After the initial Israeli attacks, several hundred people gathered outside the morgue in Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital. Some went in to identify their loved ones and later showed up in tears.

“May God take vengeance on the spies,” one shouted, referring to Palestinian whistleblowers collaborating with Israel.

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz approved an order to call in 25,000 reservists if necessary, and the military declared a “special situation” on the domestic front, with schools closed and restrictions placed on activities in communities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the border.

Israel blocked roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it prepared for a revenge attack Monday after Islamic Jihad leader Bassam al-Saadi was arrested in a military raid in the occupied West Bank. A young member of the group was killed in a clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces on the coastline in 2007. His last war with Israel was in May 2021. Tensions rose again earlier this year after a wave of attacks within Israel, nearly daily military operations and tensions in the West Bank. Jerusalem holy site at a flash point. Israel withdrew soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005.

“The fighters of the Palestinian resistance must stand together against this aggression,” Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah told Iran’s Al-Mayadeen TV channel. He said “there will be no red lines” and blamed Israel for the violence.

Hamas Spokesman Fevzi Barhum said: “Any enemy of Israel, who has escalated the tension in Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and take full responsibility.”

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

Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade over the region since Hamas took over. Israel says the shutdown is necessary to prevent Hamas from developing its military capabilities. Critics say the policy means collective punishment.


Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel.

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