Rocket attacks on Israel continued on Saturday morning following the targeted killing of a Palestinian militant leader in the Gaza Strip. Sirens could be heard in several cities in the south of the country, the military said. According to media reports, around 160 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday.
They fell on open ground or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Warning sirens could also be heard in several Tel Aviv suburbs in the evening.
Israeli forces killed the military chief of the extremist Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Friday evening. Taisir Al-Jabari died in the attack, the PIJ said on Friday.
After the targeted killing of Al-Jabari, several rockets were fired at Israel. According to the Israeli military, al-Jabari was responsible for numerous rocket attacks from Gaza and planned attacks on civilians. Islamic Jihad is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.
Israel’s large-scale military operation continued through the night. There were 20 arrests in anti-terrorist raids in the West Bank, 19 of which were linked to Islamic Jihad, the military said on Saturday.
In addition to military posts, several weapons production sites and rocket launchers were also attacked in the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian sources, at least ten people were killed, including Al-Jabari, a five-year-old child and other PIJ members. At least 79 people were injured.
A Hamas spokesman announced retaliation: “The occupation (Hamas’s term for Israel) has crossed the red lines.”
Israeli Prime Minister Jair Lapid said on Friday evening: “Israel is not interested in a broad operation in the Gaza Strip, but it is not afraid of it either.” and to threaten Israeli citizens”. Then he added: “Anyone who wants to attack Israel must know that we will get to him”
In 2019, Israel had already specifically killed al-Jabari’s predecessor, jihadi military chief Baha Abu al-Ata. This was followed at the time by massive rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israeli locations and counterattacks by the Israeli Air Force in the coastal strip. After a few days, a ceasefire was agreed with the help of Egyptian and United Nations negotiators.
According to the Israeli army, ten other jihadists were targeted in addition to Al-Jabari in the airstrike. They are said to have prepared an attack against Israel. Military bases and buildings of the PIJ were also attacked in Gaza.
An increased level of security was announced on Friday for the Israeli areas around the coastal strip. Israeli attacks continued into the evening.
In view of the new escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, Egypt is trying to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians. “We hope to reach a consensus to return to calm as soon as possible,” an Egyptian security official told AFP in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army spokesman Richard Hecht had previously also spoken of an Egyptian mediation without giving details.
The Federal Foreign Office in Berlin warned on Friday evening that after the Israeli military operation there could be “further rocket attacks on Israel”. There is danger within 80 kilometers of Gaza. “This can also affect the metropolitan area of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
The Foreign Office called for caution and to follow the instructions of the Israeli authorities. The ministry generally warns against traveling to the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, Bassem Saadi, the leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, was arrested during an Israeli anti-terrorist operation. The organisation’s military arm, Saraja al-Quds, then threatened to attack.
The jihad is closely linked to Israel’s archenemy Iran and regularly carries out rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military cordoned off areas on the edge of the coastal strip for several days and increased the alert.
Around two million people live in the Gaza Strip under very poor conditions. Hamas, classified by the EU as a terrorist organization, violently seized power in 2007. Israel then tightened a blockade of the area, supported by Egypt. Both countries justify the measure with security interests.