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 190 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday.
They fell on open ground or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Around 36 rockets landed inside the Gaza Strip. A few people were slightly injured when they ran into shelters. Warning sirens could also be heard in several Tel Aviv suburbs in the evening.
On Friday evening, Israeli forces killed the military chief of the extremist Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip, Taisir al-Jabari. According to the military, the high-ranking commander was responsible for numerous attacks from the Gaza Strip. Militant Palestinians responded with rocket fire. Islamic Jihad is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.
Israel’s large-scale military operation continued on Saturday. In the West Bank, there were 20 arrests during anti-terrorist raids during the night, 19 of which were linked to Islamic Jihad, the military said.
In addition to military posts, two weapons production sites and six rocket launchers were also attacked in the Gaza Strip. According to Palestinian sources, at least eleven people have died since Friday, including Al-Jabari and at least four members of Islamic Jihad, including a five-year-old child. More than 80 people were injured.
A Hamas spokesman announced retaliation: “The occupation (Hamas’s term for Israel) has crossed the red lines.”
Israel’s forces are bracing themselves for an extended deployment following the killing of a Palestinian militant leader in the Gaza Strip. “The military is prepared for a week’s operational activity, as directed by the political level and the chief of staff,” the military said on Saturday.
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.”
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.
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.
Palestinian leaders said Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar had begun mediation efforts to end the violence. So far, however, there has been no breakthrough. “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 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 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. A 17-year-old member of the organization died when he was arrested. 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.