Israel unleashed a series of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, targeting Islamic jihadist militant groups, killing at least 10 people, including senior militants.
Israel said the attack was in response to an “imminent threat” after another senior militant was arrested in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.
The Palestinian militants retaliated, firing rockets at Israel just hours later, bringing the two sides closer to another all-out war.
Images aired by an Israeli TV station show a series of missiles lighting up the sky as explosions blare and air raid sirens blare across central and southern Israel as darkness falls.
Islamic Jihad militant groups claimed to have fired more than 100 rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv.
Israel’s ambulance service said it had no immediate reports of casualties in the country.
It came after Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared in a televised address that his country had launched its first offensive targeting Islamic jihadists because of what he called a “concrete threat”. .
The strike comes after Israel arrested Bassam al-Saadi, a senior leader of the Islamic jihadist group, during a raid on the West Bank city of Jenin, which was occupied earlier this week.
Footage showed smoke billowing from the seventh-floor building shortly after a loud explosion was heard in Gaza City on Friday afternoon. A video released by the Israeli military showed further attacks by suspected militants blowing up three watchtowers.
In a nationally televised address Friday night, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country launched the attack based on a “concrete threat.”
“This government has a zero-tolerance policy against attempted attacks of any kind from Gaza to Israeli territory,” Rapid said. “Israel cannot stand by and watch people try to harm civilians.”
He added: “Israel has no interest in the wider conflict in Gaza, but it will not hesitate to do so.”
A five-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among those killed in the attacks in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
An Israeli official said Taisir al-Jabari, the senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, and about 15 “terrorists” were also among the victims. has not been confirmed.
An Islamic Jihad official confirmed that al-Jabari, who the Israeli army said was the main coordinator between Islamic Jihad and Hamas, was killed in the strike.
“Israel has carried out a precise counterterrorism operation against an imminent threat,” the Israeli Prime Minister said, promising to “do whatever it takes to protect its people.”
“Our fight is not against the people of Gaza. Islamic Jihad is Iran’s agent trying to destroy the state of Israel and kill innocent Israelis.”
The militant Hamas rulers of Israel and Gaza have fought four wars and several other minor battles over the past 15 years.
The latest strike comes just a year after the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas broke out in May 2021, killing at least 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel.
with post wire