Israeli airstrike on Gaza kills eight, including five-year-old girl and senior terrorist

Israel launched a wave of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, killing at least eight people, including a senior militant and a five-year-old girl, and injuring 40 others, according to Palestinian officials. Israel said it was targeting the Islamic Jihad terrorist group in response to an “imminent threat” following the arrest of a senior terrorist in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

He risks igniting another war in the region, which is ruled by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas and home to some 2 million Palestinians. The killing of a senior terrorist showed rockets fired from Gaza, pushing the sides closer to an all-out war.

An explosion could be heard in Gaza City, where smoke emanated from the seventh floor of a high-rise building on Friday afternoon.

“The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to set the agenda and threaten citizens of the State of Israel in the region adjacent to the Gaza Strip,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement. “Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know: We will find you.

The violence is a preliminary test for Lapid, who assumed the role of caretaker prime minister ahead of the election in November, in which he is expected to retain the post. He has experience in diplomacy, has served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, but his security credentials are slim.

Confirming the death toll, the Palestinian Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl was among the dead. It did not say whether the others were terrorists or civilians.

Islamic Jihad said that the commander of northern Gaza, Taisir al-Jabri was among those killed. He was successful in succeeding another terrorist killed in an airstrike in 2019.

A few hundred people gathered outside the morgue at the main Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Some entered to identify their loved ones, then just came out in tears. One shouted: “May God take revenge on the spies,” referring to Palestinian informers collaborating with Israel.

An Israeli military spokesman said it launched the strikes in response to an “imminent threat” from two terrorist squads armed with anti-tank missiles. The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said al-Jabri was deliberately targeted and was responsible for “multiple attacks” on Israel.

The military also announced a “special situation” on the home front, with schools closed and other activities banned in communities within 80 km of the border.

Israel earlier this week closed roads around Gaza and sent reinforcements to the border as it prepared for revenge following the arrest of an Islamic Jihad leader in the occupied West Bank on Monday. A teenage group member was killed in a gunfight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian extremists.

Israel and Hamas fought four wars and several minor skirmishes over 15 years, as the militant group seized power in the coastal strip from rival Palestinian forces. The most recent war took place in May 2021, and tensions flared up again earlier this year after a wave of attacks inside Israel, nearly daily military operations in the West Bank and a flashpoint at the Jerusalem holy site.

Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhlah told Iran’s al-Mayadeen TV network, “The fighters of the Palestinian resistance must stand together to confront this aggression.” He said there would be “no red lines” and blamed the violence on Israel.

“The enemy of Israel, which has launched a war against Gaza and committed a new crime, will have to pay the price and bear full responsibility for it,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups are opposed to Israel’s existence and have carried out several deadly attacks over the years, including the firing of rockets into Israel. It is not clear how much Hamas controls Islamic Jihad, and Israel blames Hamas for all attacks from Gaza.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, visiting communities near Gaza on Friday, said officials were “taking actions that remove the threat from the region.”

Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade on the region since Hamas’ takeover in 2007. Israel says it needs to be shut down to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to a collective punishment of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents.

Israel kicked off an expected fuel delivery to Gaza’s only power plant, which was expected to shut down early Saturday if fuel does not enter the region. Even when the plant is running at full capacity, Gajans still face daily power cuts that last for several hours.

Earlier on Friday, a hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip on Friday, demanding the return of a captive and the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.

The protesters were led by the family of Haider Goldin, who was killed along with Oron Shawl in the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas is still holding their remains as well as two Israeli civilians who wandered into Gaza and are believed to be terminally ill, trying to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. hopefully.

Protesters pushed through two police checkpoints on a road near the heavily guarded Gaza border before stopping at a third.

They demanded the return of the soldiers’ remains as well as the return of Avram Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent in his late 20s or early 30s. Mengistu’s family took part in the protests.

In June, Hamas released a rare video that showed another captive, Hisham al-Sayed, an Arab national of Israel, in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask and IV drip. It said that his health has deteriorated recently. Journalists covering the protests heard no mention of al-Sayed.

Israel says no major steps can be taken to lift the blockade until the remains of soldiers and captive civilians are released. Israel and Hamas have held several rounds of talks, mediated by Egypt, on a possible swap.