After the targeted killing of a militant Palestinian leader, rockets rained down on Israel, which responded with airstrikes on Gaza. According to Palestinian information, the number of victims in the Gaza Strip has continued to rise: at least 15 people have been killed and 125 injured since Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on Saturday. Among the dead are a five-year-old girl, a 23-year-old and another woman.
The Israeli military launched the large-scale “Dawn” military operation against the militant Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Friday after receiving threats. Military chief Taisir al-Jabari and other PIJ members were killed. According to the military, the senior commander was responsible for rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and planned attacks on civilians.
Egypt wants to settle
Egypt now wants to arbitrate. A delegation is ready to travel to Israel and Gaza to mediate, as the German Press Agency learned from security circles in Cairo. The aim is to prevent the conflict from spreading like it did last year. According to reports from Gaza, the United Nations and Qatar are also trying to mediate.
Around 190 rockets have been fired at Israel by militant Palestinians since Friday, the Israeli military said on Saturday. They fell on open ground or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Around 36 rockets fell within the Gaza Strip. Several cities, including the coastal city of Tel Aviv, opened public air raid shelters out of fear of further attacks.
According to information from Palestinian security circles, three residential buildings were hit in the attacks on Saturday. A five-story apartment building west of Gaza City was destroyed. Neighbors reported that Israeli drones previously fired a warning missile at the building before fighter jets attacked the building. The Israeli military said that only weapons production facilities, rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities were destroyed during the military operation. Reports of civilian deaths are known and being investigated, a military official said on Saturday. In addition, 20 people were arrested in the West Bank during the night, 19 of whom were linked to Islamic Jihad.
The group is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US. It is closely linked to Israel’s nemesis Iran and is the second-strongest military force in the coastal strip after Hamas. “The Islamic Jihad fighters are ready to continue the war,” the militant organization said on Saturday, according to media reports. 60 rockets alone have been fired at Israel since Saturday morning. They also targeted Ben Gurion International Airport in the center of the country. Israel’s army is preparing for a longer deployment. “The military is prepared for a week’s operational activity, as directed by the political level and the chief of staff,” the military said. Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Friday: “Israel is not interested in a broad operation in Gaza, but it is not afraid of it either.” A security cabinet meeting was called for Saturday night.
In 2019, Israel also specifically killed Al-Jaabari’s predecessor, Jihadi military chief Baha Abu al-Ata. At that time there were massive rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israeli locations and counterattacks by the Israeli Air Force in the coastal strip. After a few days, a ceasefire was agreed with the help of Egyptian and United Nations negotiators.
The escalation was preceded by the arrest of a West Bank Islamic Jihad leader, Bassam al-Saadi, on Monday. For several days, Israel cordoned off areas on the edge of the coastal strip and increased the state of alert. According to reports, there were concrete plans to attack Israeli civilians.
The European Union (EU) and Russia have called on the Israeli and Palestinian sides for moderation. The EU is calling on “all sides to exercise the greatest possible restraint in order to avoid further escalation and further victims,” said a spokesman for foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was following the development with “deep concern” and called on all sides to exercise “maximum restraint”.
In the meantime, the only power plant in Gaza has been shut down due to a lack of fuel. According to the electricity company, the power supply in the coastal area with more than 2 million inhabitants was reduced from twelve to four hours. Israel stopped importing fuel into the area on Monday, citing fears of attacks.
Last year, the Israeli armed forces fought an eleven-day conflict with militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian information, 255 people died at the time, and 13 people died in Israel, according to Israeli authorities. According to Israeli sources, more than 4,000 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Eventually, Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and the ruling Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel conquered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, among other things. Hamas seized power by force in 2007. Israel then tightened a blockade of the area, supported by Egypt. Both countries justify the measure with security interests. (apa/dpa/afp)