Israel Strikes Gaza As Tensions Rise: Live Updates

Written by Javed Iqbal


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Israel carried out a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip, one of which killed a senior Islamic Jihad figure, the Palestinian militant group said.CreditCredit…Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

TEL AVIV – Israeli airstrikes hit several targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing a number of people, including a senior commander of a Palestinian militant group, in the deadliest escalation of violence in the area since an 11-day war last year.

The attacks hit residential apartments as well as militant watchtowers, killing at least 10 people, including a 5-year-old girl, and wounding 55, Gaza’s health ministry said. An airstrike killed Taysir al-Jabari, a senior military leader of Islamic Jihad, the second largest militant group in Gaza, according to both Islamic Jihad and the Israeli military.

The escalation followed one of the least violent phases in Gaza in several years. After the war in May 2021, there were relatively few cross-border exchanges of fire as tensions shifted to the occupied West Bank. Both Israel and Hamas, the militant group that dominates Gaza, have signaled they were trying to avoid another full-scale war over the enclave, which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.

But the violence on Friday prompted warnings of retaliation from Palestinian militant groups and raised the possibility of a longer conflict.

The airstrikes followed nearly a week of rising tensions between Israel and Islamic Jihad, which often acts independently of Hamas. Israel arrested one of the group’s top commanders in the West Bank this week, prompting threats of reprisals from its Gaza leadership.

Islamic Jihad had not yet responded to the arrest with an attack, but Israel said it was on the verge of doing so and had preemptively targeted Mr al-Jabari and others.

“Israel will not allow the terrorist organizations to set the agenda in the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid of Israel said shortly after the attack.

Israel closed crossings into the Gaza Strip this week in anticipation of a retaliatory attack following the arrest in the West Bank.

After the airstrikes, Islamic Jihad said it would respond with force, and towns in southern Israel opened bomb shelters in anticipation of rocket fire from Gaza.

“The enemy has started a war against our people and we all have to defend ourselves and our people,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether Hamas would join Islamic Jihad. In the past, Hamas has occasionally sat on the sideline when Islamic Jihad clashed with Israel.

“While we mourn the leader al-Jabari and the righteous martyrs, we confirm that cases are open to all directions and call for an end to the Zionist aggression against our people,” Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, said in a declaration. .

Credit…Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Plumes of smoke billowed over the Gaza skyline, and on the ground, crowds of rescuers, medics and onlookers gathered in the street close to where the Islamic Jihad commander had been killed. Photographs posted online showed him being carried through a crowd and a grieving man carrying what appeared to be a dead child covered in a shroud.

The airstrikes shifted the focus of the conflict back to Gaza. Since March, Palestinian attackers have killed at least 19 Israelis and foreigners in the West Bank and Israel, in the most intense wave of stabbings and shootings in years. In response, Israel has carried out almost nightly raids in the West Bank, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and killing more than 40, according to the United Nations.

Several civilians have been caught up in the violence, including Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American broadcaster shot dead while covering an Israeli raid in May.

Fady Hanona and Iyad Abu Hweila contributed reporting from Gaza City.

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Javed Iqbal

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