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Militant killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, with Palestinian group Islamic Jihad firing 100 rockets in response

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Israeli air strikes have hit targets across Gaza, killing a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and prompting the militant group to fire 100 rockets into Israel

Key points:

  • Palestinian officials say a five-year old child was among those killed by Israeli
  • The Israeli air strikes came after days of escalating tensions following the arrest of a Palestinian militant leader during the week
  • Islamic Jihad called the Israeli bombardment a “declaration of war”
  • “The IDF [Israel Defence Forces] is currently striking in the Gaza Strip. A special situation has been declared on the Israeli home front,” the military said in a statement.

An Israeli spokesperson said the military estimated it had killed about 15 “terrorists”.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among at least 10 people killed in the Israeli strikes. Local health officials said 44 were wounded.

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

The Israeli military described Mr al-Jaabari as the main coordinator between Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

As rockets were fired back, air-raid sirens wailed in Israel and the two sides drew closer to another all-out war.

Islamic Jihad said it could hit Tel Aviv in response.

Rockets fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel cause lines of orange through the night sky.

The renewed clashes came after days of escalating tensions following the arrest of a Palestinian militant leader during the week.

A blast was heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall building. Video released by Israel’s military showed strikes blowing up three guard towers with suspected militants in them.

In a nationally televised speech, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country launched the attacks based on “concrete threats”.

“This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks — of any kind — from Gaza towards Israeli territory,” Mr Lapid said.

“Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who are trying to harm its civilians.”

‘Declaration of war’

Islamic Jihad said the Israeli bombardment amounted to a “declaration of war”, hours before it unleashed what it said was an “initial response” of more than 100 rockets towards Israel.

Israel’s Army Radio reported that Israel was calling up military reservists for the region near Gaza, which has been ruled by the militant Hamas movement since 2007.

The strikes hit several targets around the densely populated strip.

Smoke rose from a building where Mr al-Jabari was apparently killed and glass and rubble were strewn across the street amid the sound of ambulances racing to other sites.

As mourners prepared to hold funerals for those killed in the attacks, hundreds of people, some holding Palestinian flags, marched through the streets of Gaza.

The strikes came after Israel arrested Bassam al-Saadi, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad group, during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin earlier this week.

It subsequently closed off all Gaza crossings and some nearby roads over fears of retaliatory attacks from the group, which has a stronghold in Gaza, further restricting Palestinian movement.

“The goal of this operation is the elimination of a concrete threat against the citizens of Israel and the civilians living adjacent to the Gaza Strip,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.

Vow of retaliation for strikes

In an interview on Al Mayadeen television, a pro-Iranian Lebanese channel, Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhala vowed retaliation for the strikes.

“There are no red lines in this battle and Tel Aviv will fall under the rockets of resistance, as well as all Israeli cities,” he said.

Hamas’ armed wing issued a statement saying: “The blood of our people and our mujahideen will not go in vain.”

Islamic Jihad, one of a cluster of Palestinian militant groups, was founded in Gaza in the 1980s and opposes political dialogue with Israel.

Considered close to Iran, it is separate from Hamas but generally cooperates closely with the movement.

It was barely a year since the last clashes caused widespread devastation in Gaza.

There has been almost no reconstruction since then, and the isolated coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering around 50 per cent.

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Article source: ABC | 6 August 2022

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000