Israel will continue to strike terror targets with ‘high precision’, defense minister says
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Saturday it was ready to “fight week” after Israel began striking targets in Gaza the day before. They added that there were no peace talks at the moment.
The IDF said more than 160 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since Friday afternoon. The Iron Dome missile defense system destroyed 95% of rockets in flight, said Brigadier General Ran Kochav, spokesman for the defense forces.
The mission, ‘Operation Breaking Dawn’, was launched in response to “the imminent threat of attack against Israeli civilians posed by the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad”, according to IDF.
Kochav said the Israeli army hit 40 targets, including “five rocket launch pads and six rocket stores or production sites,” adding that Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander-in-chief Tayseer al-Jabari was among those killed.
“The State of Israel strives to defend its citizens and that we will operate decisively and with the utmost precision against terrorists and infrastructure,” he added. Defense Minister Benny Gantz tweeted.
The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, said it fired 60 rockets at Israeli towns “in response to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza”, as quoted by Al Jazeera.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Saturday that 12 civilians, including a five-year-old girl, were killed by Israeli strikes and 84 people were injured. One person was injured by shrapnel fired from Gaza into southern Israel, according to The Times of Israel.
The spike in tensions came after the PIJ threatened retaliation after Israel arrested the group’s West Bank leader Bassem Saadi on Monday. A Palestinian teenager was killed in the raid on Saadi’s house, causing an outcry among Palestinians.
Gantz said on Friday that the threat from Palestinian militants across the Gaza border “would be removed one way or another.” On Saturday, the minister approved the recall of up to 25,000 reservists.
In a televised address, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the operation in Gaza “Will take as long as it takes.”
The UN envoy for peace in the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, said on Friday that he was “deeply concerned” by the escalation of violence, in particular “today’s targeted assassination of a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad inside Gaza”, as well as Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, criticized the international body for “making false and immoral comparisons between a law-abiding democracy and radical terrorist organizations.”
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