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Israeli strikes on Gaza kill 10, including senior militant

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A Palestinian firefighter fights the blaze amid the destruction following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, on August 5, 2022.

Mohammed Abed | AFP | Getty Images

Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, killing no less than 10 people, including a senior militant, and wounding dozens, in line with Palestinian officials. Israel said it was targeting the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the arrest of one other senior militant within the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets hours later as air raid sirens wailed in central and southern Israel, pushing the perimeters closer to all-out war. Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired 100 rockets.

Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought 4 wars and several other smaller battles over the past 15 years at a staggering cost to the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.

A blast was heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall constructing on Friday afternoon. Video released by the military showed strikes blowing up three guard towers with suspected militants in them.

Individuals are seen around the world after attacks carried out by Israeli army over Gaza Strip on August 05, 2022 in Gaza.

Mustafa Hassona | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In a nationally televised speech Friday night, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country had launched the attacks based on “concrete threats.”

“This government has a zero tolerance policy for any attempted attacks — of any kind — from Gaza towards Israeli territory,” Lapid said. “Israel is not going to sit idly by when there are those that are attempting to harm its civilians.”

He also added that “Israel is not interested by a broader conflict in Gaza, but is not going to shrink back from one either.”

The violence poses an early test for Lapid, who assumed the role of caretaker prime minister ahead of elections in November through which he hopes to maintain the position. He has experience in diplomacy, having served as foreign minister within the outgoing government, but his security credentials are thin.

Hamas also faces a dilemma in deciding whether to hitch a latest battle — barely a yr after the last war caused widespread devastation. There was almost no reconstruction since then, and the isolated coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering around 50%.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were amongst those killed and that one other 55 people were wounded. It didn’t differentiate between civilians and militants. The Israeli military said early estimates were that around 15 fighters were killed.

Islamic Jihad said Taiseer al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was amongst those killed. He had succeeded one other militant killed in an airstrike in 2019. Lots of marched in a funeral procession for him and others who were killed, with lots of the mourners waving Palestinian flags and Islamic Jihad banners as they called for revenge.

Israeli media showed the skies above southern and central Israel lighting up with rockets and interceptors from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. An explosion was heard in Tel Aviv. It wasn’t immediately clear what number of rockets were launched and there was no immediate word on any casualties on the Israeli side.

Smoke rises after attacks carried out by Israeli army over Gaza Strip on August 05, 2022 in Gaza.

Mustafa Hassona | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Israel continued to strike other targets Friday, including weapons production facilities and Islamic Jihad positions.

Following the initial Israeli strikes, a number of hundred people gathered outside the morgue at Gaza City’s fundamental Shifa hospital. Some entered to discover family members, only to emerge in tears. One shouted: “May God take revenge against spies,” referring to Palestinian informants who cooperate with Israel.

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

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meanwhile approved an order to call up 25,000 reserve soldiers if needed. And the military announced a “special situation” on the house front, with schools closed and limits placed on other activities in communities inside 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the border.

Israel had closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border because it braced for a revenge attack after Monday’s arrest of Bassam al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad leader, in a military raid within the occupied West Bank. A teenage member of the group was killed in a gunbattle between the Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.

Trails of smoke from rockets fired by Palestinian militants into Israel are pictured, amid Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza August 5, 2022.

Ibraheem Abu Mustafa | Reuters

Israel and the Hamas fought 4 wars for the reason that militant group seized power within the coastal strip from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Essentially the most recent was in May 2021, and tensions again soared earlier this yr following a wave of attacks inside Israel, near-daily military operations within the West Bank and tensions at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah, talking to the al-Mayadeen TV network from Iran, said “the fighters of the Palestinian resistance should stand together to confront this aggression.” He said there could be “no red lines” and blamed the violence on Israel.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, who began the escalation against Gaza and committed a latest crime, must pay the value and bear full responsibility for it.”

Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Each groups are against Israel’s existence and have carried out scores of deadly attacks over time, including the firing of rockets into Israel. It’s unclear how much control Hamas has over Islamic Jihad, and Israel holds Hamas chargeable for all attacks emanating from Gaza.

Trails of smoke from rockets fired by Palestinian militants into Israel are pictured, amid Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza August 5, 2022.

Ibraheem Abu Mustafa | Reuters

Israel and Egypt have maintained a good blockade over the territory for the reason that Hamas takeover. Israel says the closure is required to stop Hamas from build up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment.

Mohammed Abu Selmia, director of the Shifa hospital, the biggest in Gaza, said hospitals faced shortages after Israel imposed a full closure on Gaza earlier this week. He said there have been enough supplies and essential drugs to sustain hospitals for five days in normal times, but that with a latest round of fighting underway, “they could run out at any moment.”

Israel called off an expected fuel delivery for Gaza’s sole power plant, which was expected to shut down early Saturday if the fuel didn’t enter the territory. Even when the plant is running at full capability, Gazans still endure each day power outages that last several hours.

Earlier Friday, a few hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip on Friday to demand the return of the stays of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.

The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who together with Oron Shaul was killed within the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas continues to be holding their stays, in addition to two Israeli civilians who strayed into Gaza and are believed to be mentally ailing, hoping to exchange them for a few of the 1000’s of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Israel says there may be no major moves toward lifting the blockade until the soldiers’ stays and captive civilians are released. Israel and Hamas have held quite a few rounds of Egyptian-mediated talks on a possible swap.

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