Israeli air strike kills top Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza
In an early morning air strike, an Israeli attack targeted an apartment on the fifth floor of a building near Khan Younis in Gaza, resulting in the death of a high-ranking commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and two other militants.
The Israeli military responded to the attack by stating that it had struck over 130 militant targets in Gaza, marking the most intense fighting in nine months. The escalation followed the firing of over 500 rockets from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the operation by Israel has claimed the lives of 25 individuals, including 10 civilians and three other PIJ commanders. However, the Israeli military reported that four people, including three children, in Gaza, were killed by rockets that fell short, though this information has not been verified by Palestinian sources.
While there have been no reported fatalities in Israel, some rockets have caused damage to homes and buildings. The targeted PIJ’s armed wing confirmed the death of its missile unit’s leader, Ali Hassan Ghali, also known as Abu Muhammad, in the Thursday morning attack.
The PIJ, the second largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas, has been responsible for numerous rocket attacks against Israel in recent years. The Israeli military acknowledged that Ghali, along with two other PIJ operatives, were targeted due to their involvement in the recent rocket barrages launched against Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Wednesday night that Israel’s military campaign was not yet concluded, following the recent developments in Gaza.
“We have dealt a severe blow to Islamic Jihad, the most significant blow it has ever experienced,” Netanyahu remarked, referencing the targeted killing of the three PIJ commanders earlier in the week.
Efforts are underway, with Egypt reportedly involved, to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions.
The recent airstrikes mark the deadliest escalation since the three-day conflict between Israel and the PIJ in August of last year, during which 49 Palestinians were killed in Gaza.
Last week witnessed a significant escalation of tensions, with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other factions launching over 100 rockets into Israel over a span of two days. The unrest was triggered by the death of a Palestinian hunger striker in an Israeli prison. In response, the Israeli military conducted airstrikes on Hamas-affiliated targets.
The situation in the occupied West Bank remained highly volatile on Wednesday, as Israeli forces carried out arrest operations. Tragically, three Palestinians were killed in the town of Qabatiya during clashes with Israeli forces. The Israeli military stated that the individuals had opened fire on them. Additionally, an Israeli soldier sustained serious injuries during a separate exchange of gunfire with Palestinian gunmen in Tubas.