Updated: Sat, 06 Aug 2022 09:41 AM IST
The militants in Palestine fired over 70 rockets into Israel on Friday in response to the brutal airstrikes by Israeli forces which claimed at least 10 lives, including a five-year-old child. As darkness fell, Israeli authorities said sirens had been sounded in southern and central areas, while images broadcast by Israeli television stations appeared to show a number of missiles being shot down by air defence systems.
Islamic Jihad, a militant group with a similar ideology to Hamas, said it had fired more than 100 rockets on Friday into Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv. The strikes came a little more than a year after an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021, which killed at least 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel and left the blockaded enclave's economy shattered.
Earlier, local health officials in Gaza said at least 10 people, including a five-year-old child, had been killed and 55 wounded in the Israeli airstrikes, which came after days of escalating tensions following the arrest of a Palestinian militant leader during the week. An Israeli spokesperson said the strikes had killed Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer al-Jaabari and around 15 "terrorists" but said the military did not have a final casualty total.
An Islamic Jihad official confirmed that al-Jaabari, whom the Israeli military described as the main coordinator between Islamic Jihad and Hamas, had been killed in the strikes, which hit several targets around the densely populated strip. Smoke rose from a building where al-Jaabari was apparently killed and glass and rubble were strewn across the street amid the sound of ambulances racing to other sites.
As mourners prepared to hold funerals for those killed in the attacks, hundreds, some holding Palestinian flags, marched through the streets of Gaza, while queues formed outside bakeries and supermarkets as people stocked up on food and staples.
The strikes came after Israel arrested Bassam al-Saadi, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad group, during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin earlier this week. It subsequently closed off all Gaza crossings and some nearby roads over fears of retaliation from the group, which has a stronghold in Gaza, further restricting Palestinian movement.
Islamic Jihad, one of a cluster of Palestinian militant groups, was founded in Gaza in the 1980s and opposes political dialogue with Israel. Considered close to Iran, it is separate from Hamas but generally cooperates closely with the movement. The Israeli military spokesperson said authorities expected there would be rocket attacks against the centre of Israel but said Iron Dome anti-missile batteries were operational.
A narrow strip of land where some 2.3 million people live on a patch of 365 square kilometres (140 square miles), Gaza has been a constant point of conflict ever since Hamas took control. Israel has fought five conflicts with Gaza since 2009. The area has since been under blockade, with Israel and Egypt tightly restricting the movement of people and goods in and out.
(With Reuters Inputs)