Israeli airstrikes kill top Islamic Jihad leader

Jerusalem and Gaza

The Israeli army launched deadly attacks on what it described as Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza on Friday as tensions continue to rise between Israel and Palestinian militant groups.

Islamic Jihad said in a statement that one of its top leaders, Tayseer Al Jabari, had been killed in an Israeli strike. He was a commander of the Quds Brigade, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the group said, and a member of its Military Council.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said at least nine people were killed, including a five-year-old girl, and 55 others were injured.

A CNN producer in Gaza saw medics removing two bodies from a building called the Palestine Tower that had been targeted in one of the attacks.

An Israeli army statement said the military operation, which it called “Breaking Dawn,” was aimed at Islamic Jihad, the smaller of the two main militant groups in Gaza. A “special situation” has been declared in areas around Gaza, in anticipation of possible rocket fire or other retaliatory attacks, the Israeli military said.

Islamic Jihad has promised to respond. “All options are open, with all the means the Palestinian resistance has, whether in Gaza or outside,” spokesman Daoud Shehab told Al Jazeera. “The battlefield is open… The resistance will respond with full force. We won’t say how, but it’s inevitable.”

Palestinians gather next to the site of an Israeli attack in Gaza City on Friday.

A Palestinian firefighter battles flames amid destruction following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, on August 5, 2022.

Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, has condemned the Israeli move. “The Israeli enemy, who started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it,” spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

The attacks come after Israeli forces captured a senior Islamic Jihad commander, Bassam al-Saadi, during a raid Monday night in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

During that operation, a 17-year-old Palestinian linked to Islamic Jihad was shot dead in an exchange of fire with Israeli soldiers, according to the Israeli military. The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli forces had shot him in the head.

Saadi was one of two wanted terror suspects detained in that raid, Israel said. The Quds Brigade, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, said it was mobilizing its forces in the Palestinian territories in response.

Israeli operations in and around Jenin have been repeated in recent months, after Palestinian gunmen from the region carried out several deadly attacks inside Israel. Thirty Palestinians have been killed in the raids since the beginning of the year, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

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