Israeli bombings against the Gaza Strip left this friday at least 15 dead, including a leader of the Islamic Jihad organization, which he replied with rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave. Israel carried out two series of bombing raids, within hours of each other. The Israeli army estimated that in the first wave “some 15 people were killed”. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the operation was directed “against an immediate threat.”
The Islamic Jihad, included in the list of terrorist organizations of the United States and the European Union (EU), confirmed the death of one of its leaders, Tayseer al Jabari “Abu Mahmud”. Among the victims is also a five-year-old girl.reported the Gaza Health Minister, who also reported 55 wounded.
In the evening, Islamic Jihad announced that its military branch had fired “more than 100 rockets” at Israel, as an “initial response” to the Israeli state’s offensive. The shots and warning sirens had been activated in Israeli towns near the Strip, with no casualties reported so far.
“We are attacking Tel Aviv and the central cities with more than 100 rockets.in response to the crime of assassination of leader Taysir al Jabari and his martyred brothers,” Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a statement.
The Israeli army said 66 rockets were fired from Gaza into its territory, of which 11 landed inside the enclave. Of the remaining 55, a spokesman said, about a third were intercepted by air defense systems while the rest fell in unpopulated areas.
Although the alarms that warn the Israeli population of the launch of rockets in their direction sounded in some cities in the center of the country, this Friday none has been activated in Tel Aviv. It was different in the case of the towns in the south of the country bordering Gaza, whose inhabitants they had to run to the shelters on multiple occasions.
In the city of Gaza, there was constant activity of ambulances transporting injured people and the action of firefighters to put out several fires. Numerous inhabitants flocked to the morgues. “We hope the situation doesn’t get worse, said Abdullah al-Arayshi, a 22-year-old from Gaza. “We want to live. Enough of wars, of destruction. We are a generation that has lost its future,” he added.
The Palestinian Presidency, based in Ramallah (occupied West Bank), condemned “Israeli aggression” and attributed the responsibility of “a dangerous escalation” to the Jewish state.
The first Minister Yahir Lapid he accused Islamic Jihad of being an “Iranian propping-up force that seeks to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis.” He added that Israel “not interested in a big conflict” with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but warned that this scenario does not generate fear. “Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who try to harm its civilians. This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attack, of any kind, from Gaza into Israeli territory,” he noted.
At the same time The United States is maintaining contacts with Israelis, Palestinians and their regional partners so that calm returns to Gazasaid a spokesman. “The goal is to achieve peace and calm after the bombing,” said the White House National Security Council Communications CoordinatorJohn Kirby. “We urge all parties to avoid further escalation. We continue our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security in the world. We continue to work to strengthen all aspects of the US-Israeli alliance,” he said.
The Israeli offensive came after the arrest on Monday in the occupied West Bank of an Islamic Jihad leader, Basem Saadi. Israeli authorities feared retaliatory attacks from Gaza, a territory ruled by the Islamist group Hamas and with a strong Islamic Jihad presence.
The army closed all border crossings on Tuesday, blocking the entry of thousands of Gazans who have work authorization in Israel. The closure also slowed the delivery of diesel to Gaza, which is usually trucked in from Egypt and Israel to power the territory’s only power plant.
Since 2007, Israel has imposed a strict lockdown from the Gaza Strip, an enclave of 362 square kilometers in which 23 million inhabitants live, with high levels of unemployment and poverty. The last Israeli bombardments in the area dated from February 19, when the army attacked a Hamas position, responding to a rocket fire from the enclave.
Gaza has been the scene of several wars between Israel and Palestinian armed groups. The last one dates back to May 2021, which left 260 Palestinian dead and 13 in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.