GAZA CITY, GAZA STRICT (AP) — Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, killing at least 10 people, including senior militants, according to Palestinian officials. Israel said it targeted Islamic Jihad militant groups in response to an “imminent threat” after the recent arrest of another senior militant.
Hours later, Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets as air raid sirens blared in Israel, bringing the two sides closer to another all-out war. Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired 100 rockets.
The militant Hamas rulers of Israel and Gaza have fought four wars and several minor battles over the past 15 years. to the territory’s two million Palestinian inhabitants.
Explosions were heard in Gaza City and smoke billowed from the seventh floor of a skyscraper. A video released by the Israeli military shows the strike blowing up three watchtowers suspected of militants.
In a nationally televised address, 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.”
“Israel has no interest in the wider conflict in Gaza, but neither does it avoid it,” he added.
Violence presents an early test for Rapid, who has assumed the role of interim prime minister He hopes to keep the position ahead of the November elections. He has diplomatic experience and served as foreign minister in the next administration, but his security credentials are weak.
Hamas also faces a dilemma in deciding whether to join the new battle just one year after the previous war caused widespread devastation. Since then, little reconstruction has taken place, and the isolated coastal area has plunged into poverty, with unemployment hovering around 50%.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were killed in Gaza but did not distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties. The Israeli military said early estimates put about 15 fighters dead. Dozens were injured.
Islamic Jihad said its commander in northern Gaza, Taysel al-Jabari, has died.He succeeded another militant killed in an airstrike in 2019.
An Israeli military spokesman said the attack was in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant units armed with anti-tank missiles. A spokesman who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity said al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and was responsible for “multiple attacks” against Israel.
Hundreds of people marched in a funeral procession for him and the other murdered, with many mourners waving Palestinian and Islamic Jihad flags and calling for revenge.
Israeli media showed the skies over southern and central Israel lit up with rockets and interceptors from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.Explosions were heard over Tel Aviv.
The number of rockets fired was not immediately clear, and casualties on the Israeli side were not immediately announced.
Israel continued to strike other targets on Friday, including weapons production facilities and Islamic jihadist camps.
The UN’s special regional envoy Tor Wensland said he was “deeply concerned”.
“The rocket launches must be stopped immediately and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation,” he said.
Hundreds gathered outside the morgue at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City after Israel’s first strike. Some went in to identify their loved ones and later burst into tears.
“May God take revenge on the spies,” exclaimed one, referring to a Palestinian informant working with Israel.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz has approved an order to call up 25,000 reservists as needed, but the military has seen schools closed and restricted from working in communities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the border. announced a “special situation” in the country that
Israel closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to its border in preparation for a retaliatory strike after arresting Islamic Jihad leader Bassam al-Saadi on Monday in a military raid in the occupied West Bank. A teenage member of the group died in a shootout between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.
Hamas seized power in the coastal zone from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.The most recent war with Israel was his May 2021, and tensions have risen again this year Following a series of attacks inside Israel, near-daily military operations in the West Bank, and tensions in the flashpoint Jerusalem Holy Land.
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Al-Nahra told Iran’s Al-Mayadeen television network, “The fighters of the Palestinian resistance must unite to confront this aggression.” He said there were “no red lines” and condemned Israeli violence.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoom said: “Israel’s enemies who initiated the escalation against Gaza and committed new crimes must pay the price and take responsibility for it.”
Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas, but shares much of its ideologyBoth groups oppose Israel’s existence and have carried out numerous deadly attacks over the years, including firing rockets into Israel. It is unclear to what extent Hamas controls Islamic Jihad, and Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade on their territory since the Hamas takeover. Israel says the shutdown is necessary to prevent Hamas from building its military capabilities, but critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment.
Mohammed Abu Sermiya, director of Shifa Hospital, said the hospital was facing shortages after Israel completely shut down Gaza earlier this week. He said that in normal times there are enough supplies and essential medicines to keep the hospital running for five days, but with renewed fighting underway, “they could be in short supply at any moment.”
Israel has canceled scheduled fuel deliveries to Gaza’s only power plant. Gaza’s only power plant was expected to shut down early Saturday if fuel did not enter the area. Even when power plants are running at full capacity, Gazans endure daily blackouts lasting hours.
Hundreds of Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip early on Friday, demanding the return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers detained by Hamas.
The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who was killed along with Oron Shaul in the 2014 Gaza civil war. Hamas identified their remains and two Israeli civilians believed to be mentally ill after wandering into Gaza, as part of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. I still have it, hoping to replace it.
Israel says no major move to lift the blockade is possible until the remains of its soldiers and captured civilians are released. Israel and Hamas have repeatedly negotiated through Egypt on possible swaps.
Klaus reported from Ottawa, Ontario. Kibbutzyad, Israel Associated Press reporter Ariel Schalit in Mordechai and Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel contributed to this report.