“The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations from the Gaza Strip to set the agenda in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel,” the Prime Minister said. Minister Yair Lapid in a statement. “Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know: we will find you.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said eight people were killed, including a 5-year-old girl, and at least 40 were injured. Islamic Jihad said Taiseer al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was among those killed. He had taken over from another activist killed in an airstrike in 2019.
A few hundred people gathered outside the morgue of Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital. Some walked in to identify loved ones, only to come out in tears. One of them shouted, “May God take revenge on the spies,” referring to Palestinian informants cooperating with Israel.
An Israeli military spokesman said they launched the strikes in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles that were making aggressive moves. The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and was responsible for “multiple attacks” against Israel.
The army said it was targeting Islamic Jihad in an operation codenamed “Breaking Dawn”. He also announced a “special situation” on the home front, with schools closed and limits imposed on other activities in communities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the border.
Israel had closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it prepared for a revenge attack following the arrest of the leader of Islamic Jihad in the occupied West Bank on Monday. A teenage member of the group was killed in a shootout between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.
Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several minor skirmishes in the 15 years since the militant group seized power in the coastal strip from rival Palestinian forces. The most recent war was in May 2021, and tensions soared again earlier this year following a wave of attacks inside Israel, near-daily military operations in West Bank and tensions at a holy site in Jerusalem.
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah, speaking to al-Mayadeen TV from Iran, said: “We are starting the fight, and the Palestinian resistance fighters must unite to confront to this aggression. He said there would be “no red lines” in the confrontation and blamed the violence on Israel.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, which triggered the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and take full responsibility.”
Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups oppose Israel’s existence and have carried out dozens of deadly attacks over the years, including rocket fire into southern Israel. Hamas’ degree of control over Islamic Jihad is unclear, and Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.
On Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited communities near Gaza, saying authorities were preparing “actions that will eliminate the threat from that region,” without giving further details.
“We will operate with internal resilience and external strength to restore daily life in southern Israel,” he said. “We do not seek conflict, but we will not hesitate to defend our citizens, if necessary.
Earlier Friday, a few hundred Israelis demonstrated near the Gaza Strip on Friday demanding the return of a captive and the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.
The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who, along with Oron Shaul, was killed in the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas still holds their remains, along with two Israeli civilians who strayed into Gaza and are believed to be mentally ill, hoping to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Protesters passed through two police checkpoints on a road near the heavily guarded Gaza border before stopping at a third.
They held a large sign demanding the return of the soldiers’ remains as well as Avraham Mengistu, an Ethiopian-born Israeli in his late 20s or early 30s. Mengistu’s family took part in the demonstration.
In June, Hamas released a rare video showing another captive, Hisham al-Sayid, an Arab citizen of Israel, in a hospital bed wearing an oxygen mask and an intravenous drip. He said his health had recently deteriorated. Journalists covering the protest heard no mention of al-Sayid.
Israel and Egypt maintained a strict blockade on the territory throughout this period. Israel says the closure is necessary to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
Israel says there can be no major progress towards lifting the blockade until the remnants of soldiers and captive civilians are freed. Israel and Hamas have held numerous rounds of Egyptian-mediated talks on a possible swap.