Salvos of rockets were fired Friday from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, after Israeli strikes targeting the armed group Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian enclave where fighters and civilians, including a child, died. “More than 100 rockets” were launched by the Al-Quds brigades towards Israeli soil, shots presented by this armed wing of Islamic Jihad as a “first response” to the Israeli strikes which notably killed one of the leaders of the group, Tayssir Al- Jabari.
Warning sirens sounded in several localities in southern Israel, but no information was immediately available about possible victims. The Israeli army estimated that it had killed 15 Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza in its strikes that began in the afternoon and continued into the evening. The Ministry of Health in Gaza reported ten dead, “including a five-year-old girl”, and 55 injured.
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“We will find you”
The Jewish state presented its raids as a “preemptive attack” against Islamic Jihad, according to an Israeli military spokesman, Richard Hecht. “Israel conducted a precise counterterrorism operation against an immediate threat,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on television. “Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. (…) We will do whatever it takes to defend our people,” he added.
The first salvo of strikes notably targeted a residential area in the center of Gaza City. AFP journalists saw the injured being evacuated by the emergency services, firefighters working to put out fires and residents crowding into morgues. “We hope the situation will not get worse,” said Abdullah Al-Arayshi, a 22-year-old resident. “We want to live. Enough wars, enough destruction. We are a generation that has lost its future.
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‘No red lines’
Hundreds of people attended Tayssir Al-Jabari’s funeral in Gaza in the evening, an AFP team found. “The Zionist enemy started this aggression and must expect us to fight relentlessly,” Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhala said in an interview with Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV. Tehran, the Iranian capital. “There will be no red lines in this battle (…) Tel-Aviv and other Zionist cities will be targets of resistance missiles,” he added.
The raids on the territory of 2.3 million inhabitants, under Israeli blockade, come after the arrest Monday of an Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank, Bassem Saadi.
Since then, the Israeli authorities have feared reprisal attacks from Gaza, an enclave controlled by the Islamists of Hamas and where Islamic Jihad is well established. The army had deployed reinforcements nearby, including tanks, roads had been blocked and trains removed.
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“To our enemies, and particularly to the leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, I would like to insist: your time is running out,” Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Friday. In Ramallah in the West Bank, the Palestinian presidency condemned “Israeli aggression” and held the Jewish state responsible for the “dangerous escalation”.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, a micro-territory plagued by poverty and unemployment. The Israeli army on Tuesday ordered the closure of border crossings, forcing thousands of Gazans, holders of work permits in Israel, to stay at home. This closure has slowed the delivery of diesel, needed to power the Gaza power plant. This single power plant risks closing due to a lack of fuel, its director warned on Thursday.
About 50 people who normally leave the enclave daily for treatment have also been affected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Israel’s latest strikes on Gaza targeted a Hamas position on July 19 after a shot from the enclave. Israel and armed groups in Gaza have fought several wars, the last of which was in May 2021. Amid tensions that began in East Jerusalem, the 11-day war left 260 Palestinians dead, including many fighters, and 13 dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.