The Israeli army said on Saturday that it had “neutralized” the military leaders of Islamic Jihad. Since the start of the outbreak of violence between the two enemies, 32 people including six children have died in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian authorities.
The Israeli army assured on Saturday August 6 that it had “neutralized” the “military” leaders of the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza, during operations which, according to the authorities of the Palestinian enclave, killed more than 30 people, including six children.
This new confrontation, which began on Friday, is the worst between the Jewish state and armed organizations in Gaza since the May 2021 war, which in eleven days left 260 dead on the Palestinian side, including combatants, and 14 dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.
According to an updated report, the Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 32 people including six children had died since Friday in Israeli strikes and that 215 had been injured.
The Israeli authorities contradict this assessment and assure that several Palestinian children were killed on Saturday evening in Jabalia (north) by a failed rocket attack from Islamic Jihad towards Israel. “Israeli security forces have not struck Jabalia in recent hours,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said in a statement.
In a hospital in Jabalia, AFP journalists saw the bodies of six people, including three children.
The Israeli army announced on Saturday that it was preparing for “a week” of raids on Gaza, targeting the Islamic Jihad, which it said killed 15 fighters.
Among them, a commander-in-chief, Tayssir Al-Jabari, killed Friday in Gaza City, and Khaled Mansour, whose Islamic Jihad confirmed the death which occurred Saturday during a strike on Rafah (south). In total, it killed eight people, according to the Gaza Interior Ministry.
On Saturday evening, Oded Basiok, the chief of operations of the Hebrew State army, sent a statement to AFP in which he said that “the senior leadership of the military wing of Islamic Jihad in Gaza has been neutralized.”
“The battle is only at its beginning,” said Mohammed Al-Hindi, a leader of this armed group which fires rockets towards Israeli soil.
Egyptian mediation attempt
Egyptian sources told AFP that Cairo, a historic intermediary between Israel and the armed groups in Gaza, was trying to establish a mediation. During a speech, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he was working “tirelessly” to restore calm.
But on the ground, the exchange of fire continued in the night from Saturday to Sunday, according to AFP journalists in Gaza.
Israel is “not currently conducting ceasefire negotiations,” an Israeli military spokesman said.
The Israeli army began striking the blockaded enclave of 2.3 million people on Friday in a “preemptive strike” against Islamic Jihad, she said.
In retaliation, about 400 projectiles – rockets and mortar shells – have been launched in the past 24 hours from Gaza, according to an Israeli official. Most were intercepted by the missile shield, the army said, and two people were lightly injured by shrapnel, rescue workers said.
Saturday afternoon, warning sirens sounded in the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv for the first time since this new escalation.
Hostilities have already deprived Gaza, a small strip of land wedged between Egypt, the Mediterranean and Israel, of its only power station.
It “stopped (working) due to a shortage” of fuel, the electricity company said on Saturday. The Jewish state has sealed off border crossings in recent days, effectively interrupting diesel deliveries.
Gaza’s health ministry said the next few hours would be “crucial and difficult”, warning it risked suspending vital services within 72 hours due to lack of electricity.
“A counter-terrorism operation”, according to Israel
The UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator (Ocha) in the Palestinian Territories, Lynn Hastings, called for allowing entry into the enclave of “fuel, food and medical supplies”.
It was the arrest of an Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank earlier this week that led to this new confrontation. Fearing reprisals, the Israeli authorities said they were launching an operation in Gaza, a micro-territory governed by the Islamist movement Hamas and where Islamic Jihad is well established.
Israeli forces also arrested in the West Bank, territory occupied since 1967 by the Jewish state, 19 members of the group considered terrorist by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
After the first raids, Islamic Jihad accused the Jewish state of having “started a war”.
For Yaïr Lapid, it is a “precise counter-terrorism operation against an immediate threat”, that of Islamic Jihad, “an auxiliary of Iran” wanting “to kill innocent Israelis”.
In 2019, the death of an Islamic Jihad commander in an Israeli operation had already given rise to several days of deadly exchanges of fire. Hamas, which has fought Israel in four wars since seizing power in 2007, kept its distance.
Source: France 24