August 9, 2022
Israel Strike Kills Top Gaza Terrorist, Triggers Rocket Barrage

Israel Strike Kills Top Gaza Terrorist, Triggers Rocket Barrage

The Israeli PM said the attacks were “a precise counter-terrorism operation against an immediate threat”.

Gaza City:

Israel carried out airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, killing more than 15 people, including a top terrorist, and launching rockets in retaliation from the region.

Israel said it launched a pre-emptive attack against Islamic Jihad that killed a top commander of the Palestinian terrorist group it blames for a series of recent attacks inside Israel.

Islamic Jihad said Israel’s bombing was like a “declaration of war”, hours before what it said was an “initial response” of more than 100 rockets toward Israel.

There were no immediate reports of casualties inside Israel, as officials in the country’s commercial capital Tel Aviv said they were opening the city’s bomb shelters.

But a child was among those killed in Gaza, according to the region’s health ministry, run by the Islamic movement Hamas.

Hamas has fought four wars with Israel since its capture of Gaza in 2007, most recently in May last year. Islamic Jihad is a separate group, but linked with Hamas.

The Israeli strikes were underway late Friday, targeting what the military described as terrorist targets in an area blocked by Hamas since its takeover.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the attacks were “a precise counter-terrorism operation against an immediate threat”.

– five year old girl –

Flames erupted from a building in Gaza City after the first round of attacks, while wounded Palestinians were evacuated by doctors.

Gaza’s health ministry said “a five-year-old girl targeted by Israeli occupation” was among the nine killed. The ministry said another 55 Palestinians were injured.

Five-year-old Ala Kaddum had a pink bow in her hair and a wound on her forehead as her body was carried by her father to her funeral.

Islamic Jihad said several members of its military wing were among those killed, including “the great fighter Taisir al-Jabri ‘Abu Mahmoud’, commander of the al-Quds brigade in the northern region of the Gaza Strip.”

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Gaza City for the funerals of Jabri and others killed in the airstrikes.

Israel’s military spokesman Richard Hecht, referring to Palestinian fighters in Gaza, said “we have killed about 15 in action”.

Israeli tanks stood at the border and the army said on Thursday it was strengthening its troops.

US Ambassador Tom Nides said Washington “strongly believes that Israel has a right to defend itself”.

“We are in talks with various parties and appeal to all parties for peace,” he wrote on Twitter.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Weinsland said he was “deeply concerned”, warning that the escalation was “very dangerous”.

– ‘pay the price’ –

The strikes came four days after Israel closed two of its border crossings with Gaza and restricted the movement of Israeli citizens living near the border, citing security concerns.

The measures came after the arrests in the occupied West Bank of two senior members of Islamic Jihad, which have a strong presence in Gaza. The terrorist group did not launch attacks on Israeli territory after the arrest.

Abdullah al-Arayshi, a resident of Gaza City, said the situation was “very tense”. “The country is devastated. We have fought a lot of wars. Our generation has lost its future,” he told AFP.

Hamas, the terrorist group that governs Gaza, said Israel has “committed a new crime for which it will pay the price”.

“In this conflict, the resistance in all its military weapons and factions is united and will speak loudly. All fronts must open fire on the enemy,” it said in a statement.

Lapid, who has been meeting with his security chiefs throughout the day, said: “Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know – we will find you.”

Islamic Jihad has been blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States.

The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel’s military action was a “dangerous escalation” and called on the international community to curb Israel’s “aggression”.

The Israeli military banned large gatherings in communities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the Gaza border until Saturday evening.

The measure follows a four-day road closure and other restrictions in the border area.

Patients and Palestinians with Israeli work permits have been barred from leaving the Gaza Strip since Tuesday, while cargo crossings have also been stopped.

Gaza’s only power station is at risk of an imminent outage due to a reduction in fuel supplies through Israel, its manager warned on Thursday.

The border area has been closed this week following a raid by security forces in the northern West Bank district of Jenin.

The Israeli army detained Bassem al-Saadi and another senior member of Islamic Jihad. A 17-year-old member of the group was shot by Israeli forces during the raid.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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