Security cabinet to meet as more than 350 rockets aim at Israel, sirens sound in Tel Aviv

Fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group in the Gaza Strip continued for a second day on Saturday, with numerous Israeli strikes in the Strip and hundreds of rocket fires targeting Israeli communities.

On Saturday night, Israeli officials said more than 350 rockets had been fired from the Palestinian enclave. And for the first time in the current conflict, rocket sirens sounded in the central metropolis of Tel Aviv. Two incoming rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and another two fell into the sea.

The vast majority of the rockets did not endanger Israeli communities, but some did hit towns, causing damage but no casualties. One hit a street in Ashkelon damaging nearby cars; a second hit a house in Sderot while the family was hiding in a reinforced room; a third hit a factory facility in Sderot; and a fourth hit a factory in an undisclosed town near the border.

Israel’s high-level security cabinet met Saturday night to review the status of Operation Dawn and consider the army’s next actions.

As Israeli airstrikes continued on PIJ sites in the Strip, the head of the armed forces’ Gaza Division told Channel 12 news that there were still “many” more targets to hit.

The army launched the operation with airstrikes in Gaza on Friday afternoon in response to what officials said was an ongoing “concrete” threat by PIJ to target Israeli civilians and soldiers. Islamic Jihad then began firing incessant barrages of rockets at Israeli communities in southern and central Israel, with the rocket fire continuing into Saturday night.

The latest data from the Israel Defense Forces puts the number of rockets fired at Israel at 350. Of these, 94 fell short in the Gaza Strip and another 29 landed in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted 162 projectiles, according to the data. The military said the Iron Dome demonstrated a 95.9 percent success rate in intercepting projectiles fired toward populated areas. The system is programmed to ignore rockets that are not considered a threat.

A rocket attack on the southern city of Ashkelon after a bombardment launched towards Israel by a Gaza terror group, August 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Three people, including two soldiers, were also slightly injured in another mortar shelling near a town in the Eshkol Regional Council.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it had evacuated 21 people to hospitals since the start of the fighting, including two people who suffered minor injuries from rocket shrapnel, 13 after falling while running to a shelter and six from anxiety. .

Military chief Aviv Kohavi said that Israel would attack the PIJ in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and elsewhere. During a visit to the Southern Command, Kohavi said that the IDF had two main objectives. “One is to prevent all attacks, and the second is to critically attack the Islamic Jihad organization, here in Judea and Samaria, and in all other sectors,” he said.

People carry the body of Palestinian Hassan Mansour, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, during his funeral in Beit Hanun, in the northern Gaza Strip, on August 6, 2022. (Anas Baba/AFP)

“We will not allow any organization in any field to damage the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” he said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a similar threat to PIJ leaders, who operate primarily from other countries hostile to Israel. “Islamic Jihad leaders, who sit in restaurants abroad and stay in hotels in Tehran, Syria and Lebanon, are disconnected from their people,” he said during a tour of a Dome air defense battery. Iron in southern Israel.

He said they were “severely damaging” the livelihoods of Gazans amid the ongoing escalation of violence, and would “pay the bill, too.”

Earlier on Saturday, the IDF said it was prepared for a possible week of fighting against the PIJ, later announcing that it had struck numerous observation posts and weapons storage sites belonging to the terror group throughout the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-run health ministry has said at least 15 people have been killed in Israeli strikes, including a five-year-old girl, and 125 others wounded.

Smoke rises from an Israeli airstrike in Khan Yםunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 6, 2022. (AFP)

In the first round of Israeli strikes, the army killed one of PIJ’s top commanders, Tayseer Jabari, who officials said was planning to target Israeli civilians near the border. Jabari replaced Baha Abu al-Ata as the group’s commander in northern Gaza after the latter was killed in an Israeli strike in 2019.

Israeli leaders said the airstrikes were necessary after the group refused to back down from carrying out attacks on the Gaza border. Along with Jabari, the IDF also said they targeted the head of PIJ’s anti-tank guided missile array and several squads preparing attacks.

Islamic Jihad had been threatening to attack since Tuesday, to reinforce its demand that Israel release its commander in Judea and Samaria, Bassem Saadi, who was arrested in an IDF raid in Jenin on Monday, sparking days of road closures and community blockades in areas near Gaza. border under immediate threat.

Meanwhile, Egypt has been trying to mediate between the parties in recent days, but failed to convince Islamic Jihad to back down. Egyptian negotiators on Saturday proposed a pause in hostilities to create an opportunity to negotiate a longer-lasting ceasefire.

A missile from Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system is launched from the outskirts of the southern Israeli city of Sderot on August 6, 2022. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The PIJ rejected the proposal for a temporary ceasefire, Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV reported. “Now is the time to respond to the crimes of the occupation,” a PIJ source told the network.

Israeli officials said the Gaza operation was specifically targeting Islamic Jihad, hoping to keep Hamas largely out of the conflict as it did during a 2019 flare-up after the assassination of a previous Islamic Jihad leader, Abu al -Ata.

As of Saturday night, Hamas appeared to be staying out of the fight for the time being. Although its leaders’ statements included fierce rhetoric against Israel, it has so far avoided engaging in attacks.

Palestinians in Gaza fire rockets at Israel on August 5, 2022. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The IDF has begun calling up reservists to reinforce its Southern Command, Home Front Command, joint air defense and combat troops in the event of a further escalation. Gantz approved the call up of up to 25,000 reservist troops, his office said.

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