The Israeli army said early Saturday it would continue to bomb military installations in the Gaza Strip as cross-border fighting continued despite Egyptian peace efforts, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
The Israeli Air Force carried out several airstrikes in the Gaza Strip during the night, hitting a suspected rocket manufacturing facility, mortar shell manufacturing workshops and rocket launchers, all believed to belong to the Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad. The Israeli army said in a press statement:
“At this point, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) will continue to attack legitimate terrorist targets of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip.”
The statement was released shortly after the official Egyptian news agency Ahram had reported that Egyptian officials are mediating between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza to end the fighting and restore the 2021 ceasefire agreement. The report, citing an Egyptian official, said:
“Egypt is in intensive talks with the Palestinian and Israeli sides to end the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is said to have contacted Egypt’s intelligence chief to get a cessation of Israeli attacks, the Lebanese broadcaster reported Al Mayadeen.
Militant fighters from the Gaza Strip continued to fire rockets throughout the night, triggering sirens in southern communities in Israel, the Israeli Home Front Command said. Since Saturday morning, Islamic Jihad has fired 60 rockets at Israel, the Israeli newspaper reported hairnet citing the military wing of the movement. The organization said in a press statement:
“We have launched a campaign against Israeli aggression and Islamic Jihad fighters are ready to continue the war.”
Since the escalation began on Friday, 12 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including a five-year-old girl and Taysir al-Jabari, a commander of Islamic Jihad, according to reports from the Palestinian Health Ministry. The only power plant in the Gaza Strip had to shut down on Saturday afternoon due to a lack of fuel.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a radio address that the attack was in response to an “imminent threat” following the recent arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad figure in the occupied West Bank. On Saturday morning, Gantz ordered further Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad targets. IDF spokesman Brigadier General Ran Kochav estimated the operation would last a week. He also contradicted the reports about mediation efforts initiated by Egypt for a ceasefire.
Hours after the initial airstrike, militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into southern and central Israel. A total of at least 100 rockets were fired by Saturday morning, according to Islamic Jihad. Mortar attacks from the Palestinian territories sparked several large fires in southern Israel, reports said hairnet. Two Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded.
The Israeli rescue service Magen David Adom said in a statement that at least five people were injured by the rocket fire.
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