Israel bombed the Gaza Strip for a second day in what it called a “preventive operation” against a Palestinian armed group, in the worst escalation of violence since the 11-day war last year.
Israeli warplanes Hit multiple sites In the besieged territory on Friday, part of a surprise operation dubbed “Dawn Dawn” that the Israeli military said thwarted alleged rocket attacks by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. While Islamic Jihad sometimes operates independently, it is allied with Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Strip.
As the exchange of fire continued and Israel appeared to expand the scope of the operation on Saturday morning, health authorities in the Palestinian coastal enclave said 12 people were killed in Israeli air strikes, including Islamic Jihad commander Taysir al-Jabari, and civilians, including five. 22-year-old girl and art student. Nearly 80 people were injured.
Islamic Jihad called the initial Israeli bombardment a “declaration of war,” as it launched a barrage of at least 100 rockets into southern Israel on Friday night. There were no immediate reports of casualties or serious damage, as the Iron Dome air defense system intercepted several missiles, but 13 people were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The hostilities have left people in Gaza afraid of another round of war, which will be the fourth serious conflict in Gaza since then agitation He took control of the strip in 2007. Israel and Egypt closed the strip’s borders a year later, leaving the area’s two million residents unemployed, deteriorating medical infrastructure, and lacking electricity and clean water.
Hamas announced its support for Islamic Jihad and said it would also respond to the strikes. “The resistance, with all its weapons and military factions, is united in this campaign and it will have the last word,” the movement said in a statement.
Egypt is, historically, a mediator between Israel and armed groups in the Middle East GazaShe said she was told by Israel that Breaking Dawn would be an attack on a smaller scale, but no negotiations have yet been opened.
The violence that erupted at the weekend comes after days of tension sparked by the arrest of Basem al-Saadi, the supreme leader of Islamic Jihad in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli army has launched near-night raids across the West Bank since mid-March, in response to a wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens.
While Islamic Jihad did not fire rockets after al-Saadi’s arrest, Israel insisted during the week that the group was seeking revenge, closing the Erez crossing used by Palestinians in Gaza to enter Israel, blocking roads and restricting the movement of civilians in southern Israel. As a precaution.
Israeli tanks and armored vehicles lined up along the border on Friday after the army said on Thursday it was beefing up its forces.
“Israel is not interested in a broader conflict in Gaza, but it will not be ashamed of another conflict,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a televised address on Friday.
The Gaza Strip has remained relatively calm since the war in May last year, which killed 256 people in Gaza and 14 people in Israel.
A month later, Israel elected a coalition government that included, for the first time, members of an independent Arab-Israeli party that opposes escalation with the Palestinians. It has also increased the number of work permits for Palestinians in Gaza to enter Israel in an effort to alleviate extreme poverty in the Strip.
The short-lived alliance collapsed in June. Lapid, the interim prime minister, is preparing for elections on November 1, in which he faces pressure from the Israeli right to appear tough on terrorism.