Dozens of rockets have been fired at Israel after the targeted killing of a Palestinian militant leader in the Gaza Strip. Sirens could be heard in several cities as far south as the coastal city of Tel Aviv on Friday night. According to Israeli media reports, the rockets landed in open areas or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Israeli forces had previously killed the military chief of the militant Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip, Taisir al-Jabari. According to the military, the high-ranking commander was responsible for numerous rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.
"We are attacking Tel Aviv and the cities of the center and the surrounding area with more than 100 rockets," said the organization's military arm late Friday evening. This is the answer to Al-Jabari's assassination. According to Israeli media reports, more than 60 rockets reached the country by midnight.
Dead and injured on the Palestinian side
According to Palestinian sources, at least ten people were killed in the large-scale Israeli military operation, including Al-Jabari, a five-year-old child and other PIJ members. 75 people were injured. However, it is expected that the number of victims will continue to rise. Israel's attacks continued into the evening.
"Israel is not interested in a broad operation in Gaza, but it is not afraid of it either," Israeli Prime Minister Jair Lapid said on Friday. The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations to set the agenda in the Gaza border towns and threaten Israeli citizens. "Anyone who wants to attack Israel must know that we will get to him." Secretary of Defense Benny Gantz approved the mobilization of 25,000 reservists in the evening.
In 2019, Israel had already specifically killed al-Jabari's predecessor, jihadi military chief Baha Abu al-Ata. At that time there were 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.
According to the Israeli army, other jihad members were targeted in addition to Al-Jabari. They are said to have prepared an attack against Israeli civilians. In addition, a weapons production facility and a missile launch facility were attacked, as well as a military post.
The escalation was preceded by the arrest of a leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, Bassem Saadi, during an Israeli anti-terrorist operation on Monday. The jihad is closely linked to Israel's archenemy Iran and regularly carries out rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. For several days, the Israeli military cordoned off areas on the edge of the coast for fear of retaliatory attacks and increased the alert.
During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel conquered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, among other things. 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. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Israel and the United States.
Targeted killings are controversial, with the United Nations, among others, complaining that it blurs legal boundaries. They also speak of a violation of international law.