Rocket volleys towards Israel after deadly strikes on Gaza

Rocket volleys towards Israel after deadly strikes on Gaza

Volleys of rockets were fired Friday from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, after Israeli strikes targeting the Islamic Jihad armed group in the Palestinian enclave where fighters and civilians, including a child, died.

This is the worst confrontation between the Jewish State and armed organizations in Gaza since the eleven-day war in May 2021, which left 260 dead on the Palestinian side, including fighters, and 14 dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.

On Friday, the Al-Quds brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, launched “more than a hundred rockets” towards Israeli soil as a “first response” to Israeli strikes that killed one of the group’s leaders, Tayssir Al-Jabari.

The Israeli military estimated that it had killed 15 Islamic Jihad fighters in its strikes that began in the afternoon and are continuing, including targeting weapons manufacturing sites, according to it.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza reported ten deaths, “including a five-year-old girl,” and 75 injuries.

In Israel, warning sirens sounded in several southern localities as rockets were fired, but no casualties or damage were identified, the military reported.

It reported 70 projectiles fired from Gaza, eleven of which landed inside the Palestinian enclave under Israeli blockade.

The remaining rockets were intercepted by the Israeli missile shield or fell into uninhabited areas in Israel.

– “We want to live” –

The Jewish State presented these raids as a “preventive attack” against Islamic Jihad, a few days after the arrest of a leader of the organization in the occupied West Bank who had raised fears of retaliatory actions, said an Israeli military spokesman, Richard Hecht.

“Israel has carried out a precise counter-terrorism operation against an immediate threat,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on television. “Islamic Jihad is a substitute for Iran, which 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 round of strikes targeted, in particular, a residential area in the center of Gaza City.

AFP journalists saw injured people being evacuated by rescue services, firefighters working to put out fires and residents crowding into morgues.

“We hope that 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”.

The Islamic Jihad, an organization considered terrorist by Israel, the United States and the European Union, accused the Jewish State of having “started a war”.

“The Zionist enemy has started this aggression and must expect us to fight relentlessly,” its secretary general, Ziad al-Nakhala, said in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen television in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

In recent days, Israel had deployed reinforcements near the enclave of 2.3 million inhabitants, ruled by Hamas Islamists and where Islamic Jihad is well established. Roads had been blocked and trains removed.

– “Dangerous climbing” –

In 2019, the death of an Islamic Jihad commander in an Israeli operation led to several days of deadly exchanges of fire between the armed group and Israel. Hamas, which has fought the Jewish State in several wars since taking power in 2007, had kept a distance from the clashes.

“To our enemies, and especially to the leaders of Hamas and the 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 the “Israeli aggression”. The UN Envoy for the Near East, Tor Wennesland, said he was “deeply concerned”, expressing alarm in a statement about a “very dangerous escalation”.

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, a micro-territory plagued by poverty and unemployment.

The Israeli military ordered the closure of border crossings on Tuesday, forcing thousands of Gazans, who hold work permits in Israel, to stay at home. The closure slowed the delivery of diesel, which is needed to power the Gaza power plant.

This single power plant is likely to stop working due to a lack of fuel, its director had warned on Thursday.

About 50 people normally leaving the enclave daily for treatment have also been affected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).


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