Israel strikes Gaza kills top militant, triggering rocket barrage – Nexus News

Israel attacked Gaza with air strikes on Saturday and a Palestinian militant group countered the strike with a barrage of rocket fire, in the territory’s worst escalation of violence since a war last year.

Health practitioners in the enclave controlled by Hamas Islamists disclosed that 10 people have been killed by Israel’s strike, including a five-year-old girl, with 75 others wounded. Israel’s army estimated that its operation has killed 15 militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid disclosed that the Jewish state was forced to launch a “pre-emptive counter-terror operation against an immediate threat” posed by the Islamic Jihad group, following days of tensions along the Gaza border.

Israel and Islamic Jihad have both admitted the death of a top commander with the militant group, Taysir al-Jabari, in a Friday strike.

Islamic Jihad stated that the initial Israeli bombardment resulted to a “declaration of war”, before it released a flurry of over 100 rockets towards Israel.

The rocket fire and Israeli strikes continued overnight, causing a repeat of an 11-day conflict in May 2021 that destroyed Gaza and forced countless Israelis to rush to bomb shelters.

“Israel isn’t interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either,” Lapid disclosed in a nationally televised address.

Air raid sirens sounded overnight across several areas in southern and central Israel, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Officials in border areas implored people to stay close to shelters, which were also being opened in the commercial capital of Tel Aviv.

The army had initially confirmed at least 70 rocket launches from Gaza, stating that 11 had fallen inside the strip, with dozens intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, and that others had landed in open areas.

Egypt, a historic broker between Israel and armed groups in Gaza, was seeking to mediate and may organize an Islamic Jihad delegation later Saturday, Egyptian officials told AFP in Gaza.

Hamas has fought four wars with Israel since seizing control of Gaza in 2007, including the attack last year May. Islamic Jihad is a separate group, worked with Hamas, but that also acts independently.

The fight with Islamic Jihad came in 2019, following Israel’s killing of Baha Abu al-Ata, Jabari’s predecessor.

The sides exchanged fire for days without Hamas joining the combat.

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Hamas’s position amid the current attack could prove crucial in deciding its severity, with the group facing pressure from some to maintain calm in order to improve economic conditions in the region.

Gaza City resident Abdullah al-Arayshi stated that the situation was “very tense”. “The country is devastated. We’ve had enough wars. Our generation has lost its future,” he informed AFP.

Hamas said Israel has “committed a new crime for which it must pay the price”.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are tagged terrorist organisations by much of the West.

Five-year-old girl

Flames poured out of a building in Gaza City subsequent to the first round of strikes, while injured Palestinians were moved out by medics.

Gaza’s health ministry reported “a five-year-old girl, targeted by the Israeli occupation” was among nine people killed.

Five year old girl killed in the attack

Five-year-old Alaa Kaddum had a pink bow in her hair and a wound on her forehead, as her body was carried by her father at her funeral.

Hundreds of mourners came together in Gaza City for the funerals of Jabari and others killed in the air strikes.

Israeli military spokesman Richard Hecht said “we are assuming about 15 killed in action” in Gaza, referring to Palestinian combatants.

Israeli tanks were lined up along the border and the military said Thursday it was reinforcing its troops.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said he was “deeply concerned”, cautioning that the escalation was “very dangerous”.

The strikes came four days after Israel closed its two border crossings with Gaza and prohibited the movement of Israeli civilians living near the frontier, citing security concerns.

The decisions followed the arrest in the occupied West Bank of two senior members of Islamic Jihad, including Bassem al-Saadi, who Israel blame of being the brain behind the recent attacks.

Islamic Jihad did not launch rocket attacks in reaction to the arrest, but Israel has emphasized through the week that the group was committed to seeking revenge.

Palestinians including patients and those with Israeli work permits have been prohibited from leaving the Gaza Strip since Tuesday, while the goods crossing has also been shut.

Gaza’s only power station is at risk of inevitable outage due to a lack of fuel supplies through Israel, its manager cautioned on Thursday.

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