Israeli planes pounded into Gaza on Saturday and Palestinians fired rockets at Israel, after an Israeli operation against the Islamic Jihad militant group ended more than a year of relative calm along the border.
Israel launched an anti-Islamic Jihad operation on Friday, killing one of the group’s senior commanders in a surprise daytime airstrike on a skyscraper in Gaza City and unleashing volleys of rockets in response.
Further escalation would depend largely on Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza, and whether it would choose to join the fighting.
The Israeli attacks have killed 11 Palestinians, including at least four other Islamic Jihad fighters and a child, and wounded at least 80 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
Islamic Jihad did not provide details on how many of its members were killed.
The Israeli military said its jets targeted two militants preparing to launch rockets in a new attack on Saturday. Overnight, she detained 19 Islamic Jihad militants in raids in the Israeli-occupied West Bank while targeting the group’s missile factories and launchers in Gaza.
Palestinian militants have fired at least 160 rockets across the border, the military said, some deep into Israel near the Tel Aviv trade hub. Most missiles were intercepted and some people were slightly injured rushing to shelters.
Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar are trying to broker an end to the violence, “but no breakthrough yet,” according to a Palestinian official with knowledge of the matter.
Islamic Jihad did not signal an immediate ceasefire. “The time is now for resistance, not for a truce,” a representative of the group told Reuters.
Some 2.3 million Palestinians are crammed into Gaza’s narrow coastal strip, with Israel and Egypt imposing strict restrictions on movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposing a sea blockade, citing security concerns.
The border has been largely calm since May 2021, when 11 days of fierce fighting between Israel and militants claimed the lives of at least 250 in Gaza and 13 in Israel.
UN envoy to the Middle East Tor Wennesland said he was deeply concerned by the violence and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority condemned Israel’s attacks.
The streets of Gaza were largely deserted and shops remained closed early Saturday. Debris, glass and furniture were strewn along the road at the spot where Islamic Jihad’s supreme commander Tayseer al-Jaabari was killed.
A neighbor, Mariam Abu Ghanima, 56, said the Israeli military did not issue a warning before the attack, as they had done in previous rounds of violence. The military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Israel has imposed special security measures in its southern areas near the Gaza Strip and is preparing to call up about 25,000 military personnel, according to Army Radio.
Tensions rose this week after Israeli forces arrested an Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank and drew threats of retaliation from the group.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Friday’s attacks thwarted an immediate and concrete attack by Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran and labeled a terrorist organization by the West.
Some Israeli political analysts said the military operation gave Lapid an opportunity to bolster its security credentials ahead of November 1 elections.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/israel-gaza-fighting-spills-into-second-day-with-air-strikes-and-rockets-41893715.html Fighting between Israel and Gaza enters the second day with airstrikes and rockets