Israel strikes kill top Gaza militant, others; Palestinian Islamic Jihad group responds with rocket barrage – Details

Israel strikes kill top Gaza militant others Palestinian Islamic Jihad group responds with rocket barrage - Details
Tel Aviv-Yafo: Air strikes pounded the Gaza Strip late on Friday as Palestinian militants clashed with Israeli authorities in what is believed to be the territory’s worst escalation of violence since a war last year. At least 10 people were killed in the clash with as estimated 75 people injured. The latest altercation had begun after Israel killed Tayseer Jabari – a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group during an air strike. Operation “Breaking Dawn” prompted a sharp response from the group which retaliated with a flurry of more than 100 rockets towards Israel.
Six sites had been hit by fighter jets and armed drones under the initial Israeli operation. According to Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the Jewish state had launch a “pre-emptive counter-terror operation against an immediate threat” posed by the Islamic Jihad group following days of tensions along the Gaza border. The latter however contended that the initial Israeli bombardment amounted to a “declaration of war”.

“Israel isn’t interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either,” Lapid said in a nationally televised address.

The army had initially confirmed at least 70 rocket launches from Gaza, saying 11 had fallen inside the strip, with dozens intercepted by the Iron Dome air defence system, and that others had landed in open areas. Flames poured out of a building in Gaza City following the first round of strikes, while wounded Palestinians were evacuated by medics.

Gaza’s health ministry reported that “a five-year-old girl, targeted by the Israeli occupation” was among nine people killed. Israeli military spokesman Richard Hecht said “we are assuming about 15 killed in action” in Gaza, referring to Palestinian combatants.

Israeli tanks have also lined up along the border and the military said on Thursday that it was reinforcing its troops.

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Egypt -a historic broker between Israel and armed groups in Gaza – is working to calm the situation and may host an Islamic Jihad delegation later on Saturday. Meanwhile, UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply concerned” and warned thaat the escalation was “very dangerous”.

Hamas has fought four wars with Israel since seizing control of Gaza in 2007, including the conflict last May. Islamic Jihad is a separate group aligned with Hamas that also acts independently.

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