Israel kills three Islamic Jihad commanders in targeted Gaza strikes | World News

Israel bombed the Gaza Strip overnight, killing three senior commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.

Several sites affiliated with the organization were also removed, including a rocket factory and a concrete production facility for tunnels.

At least 12 people were killed and 20 injured, according to the latest figures from the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Islamic Jihad organization said the dead included the wives and children of the three commanders.

An explosion is seen in the southern Gaza Strip
An explosion is seen in the southern Gaza Strip

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) described the targets as “boss terrorists” and said they were “aware of some collateral” involved in civilian deaths.

Forty aircraft were used in the operation, which began shortly after 2am and was named ‘Shield and Arrow’.

The strikes hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah.

The IDF confirmed that the commanders killed were Khalil Bahitini, who ran PIJ operations in northern Gaza, Tarek Azaldin, who is believed to have coordinated attacks in the West Bank from Gaza, and Jahed Ahman, a senior figure on the group’s military council.

Analysis by Alistair Bunkall

With 12 deaths, including women and children, this is likely to escalate.

The IDF said the airstrikes were aimed solely at the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but the actions taken, including approving the evacuation of border towns, showed it was ready for a conflict. .

The campaign was signed off by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Friday, but it was delayed once because of the weather and again when goals were not set. The strikes took everyone by surprise – as of breakfast time on Tuesday morning, there is still no response from Islamic Jihad but it is likely that that will come after the funeral later today.

The key to what happens next will be the response from Hamas. The group that controls the Gaza Strip released a statement condemning the attacks but did not say it would retaliate.

Last year, a similar campaign against Islamic Jihad resulted in three days of fighting. On that occasion, Hamas chose to stay on the sidelines but could feel pressured, especially from Iran, to respond this time.

Mr. Netanyahu has come under increasing pressure to implement a more proactive counterterrorism policy, hitting targets first rather than acting retroactively. Right-wing voices in his government have advocated for a more aggressive military posture in the West Bank and Gaza, and that seems to be the case.

The funeral is expected to take place on Tuesday morning.

Israel is ready to respond – schools near the Gaza border will close today, people are ordered to stay near bomb shelters and some villages have been approved to evacuate.

Outdoor gatherings were banned and the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel was closed.

Reserves have been put on standby and Israel’s Home Command is ready for further action.

The attacks came by surprise and Islamic Jihad has yet to respond, but it comes after a brief but intense 24-hour period last week when nearly three dozen rockets were fired towards Israel in the wake of what death of a Palestinian known for going on a hunger strike in prison.


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