Islamic Jihad leader assassinated in the attack, which also killed a five-year-old girl and wounded more than 55 civilians.
The Israeli army has killed at least 10 Palestinians, including a five-year-old child and a senior military leader, in the latest bombardment on the Gaza Strip on Friday.
Taiseer al-Jabari, head of the northern division of al-Quds Brigades (Saraya al-Quds), the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, was killed in airstrikes that hit multiple locations in Gaza. At least 55 people were wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
The attacks hit three different areas: Khan Yunis in the south of the strip, Shujaiya in the north, and a residential building in central Gaza.
The army said it was targeting the Islamic Jihad in the operation dubbed “Breaking Dawn”.
Hamas, de facto ruler in Gaza, and the Islamic Jihad, the second biggest armed group in the strip, have vowed a heavy response to the Israeli aggression.
Ziad al-Nakhalah, head of the Islamic Jihad, said there are no limits in this round of fighting and that Tel Aviv will be targeted.
“There are no red lines in this battle and Tel Aviv will fall under the rockets of resistance, as well as all Israeli cities,” he said.
Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesperson for Hamas, said the resistance factions in Gaza are united and ready to respond with “full force”.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid meanwhile said that the country will “not allow terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip to set the agenda” and that the Israeli military will continue to act against the Islamic Jihad group “to eliminate the threat they pose to the citizens of Israel”.
Arrest of Islamic Jihad leader
The attack comes after days of lockdowns imposed by Israeli authorities on residents living near Gaza and troop deployments to the area. The measures included road closures and the halting of rail services near Gaza.
The Israeli army said these were in place due to the fear of retaliatory attacks by Islamic Jihad in Gaza after a senior leader of the group, Bassam al-Saadi, was arrested in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
The raid on the city also killed 17-year-old Palestinian Dirar al-Kafrayni, who was shot dead by Israeli forces.
Saadi’s son-in-law, Ashraf al-Jada, was also arrested in the raid. Saadi’s wife sustained injuries during the arrest and was taken to hospital for treatment. Security camera footage of Saadi’s arrest showed Israeli soldiers dragging the 62-year-old along the ground. He was also reported to have been injured by an Israeli army dog.
As news of the fatal raid spread, crowds gathered in Jenin refugee camp and the nearby city of Nablus, as supporters voiced solidarity with the highly respected figure. Islamic Jihad, seen as the second most influential Palestinian armed resistance group behind Hamas, said it has put its fighters everywhere on alert.
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007, which rights groups say amounts to collective punishment of the enclave’s two million residents. Israel prevents the importing of materials and equipment into Gaza and has imposed tight restrictions on exports, leading to a state of “paralysis” in several sectors of Gaza’s economy.
Egypt also upholds the siege, controlling movement in and out of Gaza on its border.
An Israeli military assault on Gaza in May last year killed more than 260 Palestinians, including 66 children, and displaced at least 72,000 people, according to the Gaza ministry of health.
Human Rights Watch said in a report that the 2021 Israeli airstrikes had targeted areas where there were no evident military targets in the vicinity, which amounted to war crimes.
Source: Middle East Eye