Israel attacks Gaza as tensions rise: live updates


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Israel carried out a series of airstrikes in 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 several people including a senior commander of a Palestinian militant group in the deadliest escalation of violence in the territory since an 11-day war in May. from last year.

The strikes hit residential apartments and militant watchtowers, killing at least 10 people, including a 5-year-old girl, and wounding 55, the Gaza Health Ministry said. An airstrike killed Taysir al-Jabari, a senior military leader in Islamic Jihad, the second largest militant group in Gaza, according to Islamic Jihad and the Israeli military.

The escalation followed one of the least violent phases in Gaza for several years. Since May 2021, there have been relatively few exchanges of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the territory as tensions shifted to the occupied West Bank. Both Israel and Hamas, the militant group that dominates Gaza, have said they want to prevent another full-scale air war over the enclave, which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.

But the unusual intensity of the violence prompted warnings of retaliation by the main Palestinian militant groups in Gaza and raised the possibility of days of conflict.

The airstrikes followed nearly a week of rising tensions between Israel and Islamic Jihad, a less powerful militant group that often acts independently of Hamas. Israel arrested one of the group’s top commanders in the West Bank this week, prompting threats of retaliation from the group’s leaders in Gaza.

Islamic Jihad had not yet responded to the arrest with an attack, but Israel said it was about to and had preemptively targeted Mr al-Jabari and other members of the group to prevent it.

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

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

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

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

It was not immediately clear whether Hamas would join Islamic Jihad, after signaling for months that it wanted to avoid another major war so soon after the conflict in May 2021. In the past, Hamas has occasionally stood by while Islamic Jihad He clashed with Israel. .

But in a statement on Friday, a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, said Israel began the escalation against resistance groups in Gaza “and must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it.” He added that all the armed groups in Gaza were united in the battle against Israel.

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 near the spot where the Islamic Jihad commander had been killed. Photos posted online showed the commander being carried through a crowd, and a grieving man carrying what appeared to be a dead child covered in a shroud.

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

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