The Israeli army attacks Islamic Jihad sites in Gaza

Norman Ray
Norman Ray

Global Courant 2023-05-09 07:47:21

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli aircraft carried out strikes on Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the Israeli military said, and the group said three senior commanders and members of their families were killed in the strikes.

Witnesses said an explosion hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah. Airstrikes continued into the early hours, targeting militant training areas.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a number of people were killed and injured in the airstrikes, but did not elaborate. Islamic Jihad said the wives of the three commanders and some of their children were also killed.

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The Israeli army said the aerial bombings targeted the homes of three senior commanders of the Iranian-backed group. It added that the three were responsible for the recent rocket fire towards Israel.

The bombings, codenamed “Operation Shield and Arrow,” targeted Khalil Bahtini, the Islamic Jihad commander in northern Gaza; Tareq Izzeldeen, the group’s go-between between its members in Gaza and the West Bank; and Jehad Ghanam, the secretary of the Islamic Jihad Military Council. .

Islamic Jihad, which is smaller than the dominant, ruling Hamas movement, confirmed the three were among the dead.

The airstrikes come as tension boils between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip. The tension is linked to escalating violence in the occupied West Bank, where Israel has been conducting near-daily raids for months to detain Palestinians suspected of planning or carrying out attacks against Israelis.

In anticipation of Palestinian rocket attacks in response to the airstrikes, the Israeli military advised residents of communities within 40 kilometers of Gaza to stay close to designated bomb shelters.

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Last week, Gaza militants fired several volleys of rockets at southern Israel, and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes after the death of a senior Islamic Jihad member on hunger strike in Israeli custody. The gunfight ended with a fragile ceasefire brokered by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar.

The airstrikes are similar to those in 2022, when Israel bombed sites hosting commanders of the Islamic Jihad group, beginning a three-day blitz that saw the group lose its top two commanders and other dozens of militants.

Israel says the raids on the West Bank are designed to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the attacks as further entrenchment of Israel’s 56-year, unrestricted occupation of land they seek for a future independent state.

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So far, 105 Palestinians, about half of them militants or alleged attackers, have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since early 2023, according to an Associated Press report.

The Israeli army attacks Islamic Jihad sites in Gaza

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