Baltimore Sun

Palestinia­n militant is killed as Israel responds to ‘threat’

- By Fares Akram and Joseph Krauss

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, killing at least 10 people, including a senior militant, and wounding dozens, according to Palestinia­n officials.

Israel said it was targeting the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the arrest of another senior militant in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

Palestinia­n militants launched a barrage of rockets hours later amid air raid sirens in central and southern Israel. Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired 100 rockets.

Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years at a staggering cost to the territory’s 2 million Palestinia­n residents.

A blast was heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall building on Friday afternoon. Video released by Israel’s military showed strikes blowing up three guard towers with suspected militants in them.

In a nationally televised speech Friday night, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country had launched the attacks based on “concrete threats.”

“This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks — of any kind — from Gaza towards Israeli territory,” Lapid said. “Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who are trying to harm its civilians.”

He also added that “Israel isn’t interested in a broader conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either.”

The violence poses an early test for Lapid, who assumed the role of caretaker

prime minister ahead of elections in November in which he hopes to keep the position. He has experience in diplomacy, having served as foreignmin­isterinthe­outgoing government, but his security credential­s are thin.

Hamas also faces a dilemma in deciding whether to join a new battle — barely a year after the last conflict caused widespread devastatio­n. There has been almost no reconstruc­tion since then, and the isolated coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployme­nt around 50%.

The Palestinia­n Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among those killed in Gaza, without differenti­ating between civilian and militant casualties.

The Israeli military said early estimates were that around 15 fighters were killed.

Islamic Jihad said Taiseer al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was among those killed. He had succeeded another militant killed in an airstrike in 2019. Hundreds marched in a funeral procession for him and others who were killed, with many mourners waving Palestinia­n and Islamic Jihad flags and calling for revenge.

Israeli media showed the skies above southern and central Israel lighting up with rockets and intercepto­rs from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. An explosion was heard in Tel Aviv. It wasn’t immediatel­y clear how many rockets were launched and there was no immediate word on any casualties on the Israeli side.

Israel continued to strike other targets Friday, including what it said were weapons production facilities and Islamic Jihad positions.

The U.N. special envoy to the region, Tor Wennesland, said he was “deeply concerned by the ongoing escalation.”

Following the initial Israeli strikes, a few hundred people gathered outside the morgue at Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital. Some went in to identify loved ones, emerging later in tears.

An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes were in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with antitank missiles. The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said al-Jabari was deliberate­ly targeted and had been responsibl­e for “multiple attacks” on Israel.

 ?? HATEM MOUSSA/AP ?? Smoke rises from a building hit by Israeli airstrikes on Friday in Gaza City. Palestinia­n officials said a senior militant was among at least 10 people killed.
HATEM MOUSSA/AP Smoke rises from a building hit by Israeli airstrikes on Friday in Gaza City. Palestinia­n officials said a senior militant was among at least 10 people killed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States