Air strikes, rocket attacks push Israel, Gaza into second day of fighting

  • Fourteen dead, at least 110 injured – Palestinian Ministry of Health
  • At least 160 rockets fired at Israel – military
  • Israel killed Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza on Friday

GAZA/JERUSALEM, Aug. 6 (Reuters) – Israel struck Gaza on Saturday and Palestinians fired rockets into Israeli towns after an Israeli operation against the militant Islamic Jihad group ended more than a year of relative calm along the border.

Israel on Friday killed one of the group’s senior commanders in a surprise daytime airstrike on a high-rise building in Gaza City that fired rocket salvos in response. read more

Israel said Saturday it had hit Islamic Jihad militants preparing to launch missiles and militant posts. Additional bombings targeted five homes, witnesses said, sending huge clouds of smoke and debris into the air as explosions shook Gaza City.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Palestinian militants fired at least 160 rockets across the border, setting off airstrikes and rushing people to the air raid shelters as far as the central Israeli city of Modiin, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Islamic Jihad said it targeted Israel’s main international gateway, Ben Gurion Airport, but the missile fell short near Modiin, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, and the Civil Aviation Authority said the airport was usually operated with modified flight paths.

Most of the missiles were intercepted and there were no reports of serious casualties, the Israeli ambulance service said.

Egyptian, UN and Qatari efforts to end the fighting were underway. Further escalation would depend largely on whether Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, would choose to join the fighting.

The Israeli attacks have killed 14 Palestinians, including at least four more Islamic Jihad militants and a child, and injured at least 110, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Islamic Jihad did not provide precise details on how many of its members had been killed and did not declare an immediate ceasefire. “Now is the time for resistance, not a ceasefire,” a group official told Reuters.

Last night, the Israeli military said it had detained 19 Islamic Jihad militants during raids on the Israeli-occupied West Bank while targeting the group’s missile factories and launchers in Gaza.

UN COMMITTED AUTHORITY

About 2.3 million Palestinians are crammed into the narrow coastal strip of the Gaza Strip, with Israel and Egypt severely restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposing a naval blockade, citing security concerns.

Israel halted planned fuel shipments to Gaza shortly before it struck on Friday, paralyzing the area’s lone power plant and cutting electricity to about 8 hours a day, and receiving warnings from health officials that hospitals would become serious within days. affected.

The border had been largely silent since May 2021, when 11 days of fierce fighting between Israel and militants killed at least 250 in Gaza and 13 in Israel.

UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said he was deeply concerned about the violence and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority condemned Israel’s attacks.

The streets in Gaza were largely deserted on Saturday afternoon. At the spot where the top commander of Islamic Jihad, Tayseer al-Jaabari, was killed, rubble, glass and furniture lined the street.

A neighbor, Mariam Abu Ghanima, 56, said the Israeli military has not issued a warning before the attack, as in previous rounds of violence.

An army spokesman said the force had made efforts to avoid civilian casualties in the surprise attack, which used precision means to attack a specific floor of the building.

Israel has imposed special security measures in its southern areas near Gaza and is preparing to call in some 25,000 military personnel, according to Army Radio, and streets in towns near the border were empty.

Tensions mounted this week after Israeli forces arrested an Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank, threatening retaliation from the group.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Friday’s attacks thwarted an immediate and concrete attack by Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran and labeled a terrorist organization by the West.

Some Israeli political analysts said the military operation offered Lapid an opportunity to strengthen its security credentials ahead of the November 1 elections.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Written by Maayan Lubell; adaptation by Robert Birsel and Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nidal Al-Mughrabic

Thomson Reuters

A senior correspondent with nearly 25 years of experience on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.

Leave a Comment