Israeli forces have killed the military chief of the extremist Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Taisir al-Jabari died in the attack, the PIJ said on Friday. The Israeli military has confirmed the death of the senior commander. Accordingly, al-Jabari was responsible for numerous rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and planned attacks on civilians. Islamic Jihad is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.
The Israeli military had previously attacked several targets in the coastal strip after threats from Islamic Jihad. According to Palestinian sources, at least eight people were killed, including a five-year-old child. At least 55 people were injured. A Hamas spokesman announced retaliation: "The occupation (Hamas's term for Israel) has crossed the red lines."
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.
Planned attack against Israel?
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 the Gaza Strip. A heightened level of security was announced on Friday for the Israeli areas around the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Jair Lapid said: "The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations to set the agenda in the towns on the outskirts of Gaza and to threaten Israeli citizens. Anyone who wants to attack Israel must know that we will get to them."
On Monday, Bassem Saadi, the leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, was arrested during an Israeli anti-terrorist operation. 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.
Israel has repeatedly targeted Hamas political and military leaders in the past. Spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, who was confined to a wheelchair, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004. Later, Israel also killed his successor, Abdel Asis Rantisi, and in 2012, Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari.
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