Israel-Gaza fighting spills into second day with air strikes

Israeli aircraft struck Gaza and Palestinians fired rockets at Israel on Saturday after an Israeli operation against the Islamic Jihad militant group ended more than a year of relative calm along the border.

Israel on Friday killed one of the group’s senior commanders in a surprise daytime air strike on a high-rise building in Gaza City which drew rocket salvoes in response.

On Saturday, the country said it struck Islamic Jihad militants preparing to launch rockets. Additional bombings targeted three houses, witnesses said, flattening at least one as the sounds of more explosions rocked Gaza City.

As reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Israeli strikes killed 12 Palestinians, including at least four more Islamic Jihad militants and a child, and have wounded at least 84 people.

Palestinian militants, in turn, fired at least 160 rockets across the border, setting off air raids sirens and sending people running to bomb shelters as far as the central Israeli city of Modiin, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Most of the missiles were intercepted and there were no reports of serious casualties.

UN envoy voices concerns


Around 2.3 million Palestinians are packed into the narrow coastal Gaza Strip, with Israel and Egypt tightly restricting movement of people and goods in and out of the enclave and imposing a naval blockade, citing security concerns.

Israel stopped the planned transport of fuel into Gaza shortly before it struck on Friday, crippling the territory’s lone power plant and reducing electricity to around 8 hours per day.

The frontier had been largely quiet since May 2021, when 11 days of fierce fighting between Israel and militants left at least 250 in Gaza and 13 in Israel dead.

The UN Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland said he was deeply concerned about the violence and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority condemned Israel’s attacks.

Gaza streets were largely deserted and shops remained closed early on Saturday. At the site where top Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer al-Jaabari was killed, rubble, glass and furniture were strewn along the street. Israel has imposed special security measures in its southern territories near Gaza and is preparing to call up some 25,000 military personnel, according to Army Radio.

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