At least eight people have died, including a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), as a result of Israeli airstrikes, officials have said.
An explosion was heard in Gaza City on Friday and smoke was seen coming from the seventh floor of a tall building.
The Palestinian The Ministry of Health said that 40 people were injured, and a senior Islamic Jihad commander and a five-year-old child are among the dead.
The strike comes after days of tensions following the arrest of a senior militant in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is currently striking in the Gaza Strip. A special situation has been declared on the Israeli home front,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and IDF said the official Tayseer al-Jaabari had been killed.
According to the IDF, he was “responsible for multiple terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians” and shared a photo of him on social media.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, who started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it”.
In a statement broadcast on Al Mayadeen television, a pro-Iranian Lebanese channel, Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Al Nakhala vowed revenge for the strikes.
“There are no red lines in this battle and Tel Aviv will fall under the rockets of resistance, like all Israeli cities,” he said.
Tensions raise the possibility of second war in as many years
Tensions have been high around Gaza for days, following the arrest by Israel of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader in the West Bank earlier this week.
An 80 km zone of blockade and road closure has been in place on the Israeli side, pending retaliatory action by PIJ – this gave the IDF time to put military assets in place, in preparation for today’s operation .
Israel says that attempts to get PIJ to climb down have been exhausted, which is why they have now decided to act first and launched “Operation Breaking Dawn”.
During strikes on a high-rise building, a number of PIJ militants were killed, including the commander of the Islamic Jihad in the north of Gaza. A five-year-old child was also among the dead, and more than 40 were injured.
Israeli officials make it clear that this was a strike against a PIJ target, not against Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. That message was passed on to Hamas via backchannels.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad has already said it will respond and warned that Tel Aviv, just north of Gaza, will be targeted.
Hamas, which Israel says it wants to keep out of this, must now decide what to do next. If the group joins forces with PIJ and fires rockets into Israel, things could escalate very quickly, and we could be looking at a second war in as many years.
Senior IDF commanders have indicated to me that their goals have been achieved, but they are warning of further airstrikes if they receive intelligence that preparations are underway for attacks on Israel.
Much depends on the next 24 hours.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited communities near Gaza earlier on Friday, saying authorities were “preparing actions that will remove the threat from this region,” without elaborating.
“We will operate with internal resilience and external strength to restore routine life in southern Israel,” he said.
“We do not seek conflict, but we will not hesitate to defend our citizens, if necessary.”
The PIJ is smaller than Hamas, but shares a similar ideology, with both groups opposing the presence of Israel.
Senior Islamic Jihad commander killed in Israeli airstrike, Palestinian authorities say | World news
Source link Senior Islamic Jihad commander killed in Israeli airstrike, Palestinian authorities say | World news