Israeli planes attack Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip
Israeli planes carried out strikes on Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, the Israeli military said, and the group said three senior commanders were killed in the strikes.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said several people were killed and injured in the airstrikes. It was not elaborated on. The Israeli military said the airstrikes targeted the homes of three senior commanders of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad group.
Witnesses said an explosion hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah. Airstrikes continued into the early hours of the morning, targeting militant training sites.
The Israeli army said the airstrikes, codenamed “Operation Shield and Arrow,” targeted Khalil Bahtini, the Islamic Jihad commander for the northern Gaza Strip; Tareq Izzeldeen, the group’s intermediary between its members in Gaza and the West Bank; and Jehad Ghanam, secretary of the Islamic Jihad Military Council. It added that the three were responsible for the recent rocket fire on Israel.
Islamic Jihad, which is smaller than the dominant, ruling Hamas movement, confirmed the three were among the dead.
The airstrikes come as tensions between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the militant Hamas group. The tensions are linked to rising violence in the occupied West Bank, where Israel has been conducting near-daily raids in recent months to detain Palestinians suspected of planning or carrying out attacks on Israelis.
Anticipating Palestinian rocket attacks in response to the airstrikes, the Israeli military issued instructions advising residents of communities within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of Gaza to stay near designated air raid shelters.
Last week, militants from the Gaza Strip fired multiple volleys of rockets into southern Israel, and the Israeli military responded with airstrikes after a hunger-striker was killed in Israeli custody. The exchange of fire ended in a fragile ceasefire brokered by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar.
The airstrikes are similar to those in 2022, in which Israel bombed locations housing Islamic Jihad group commanders, sparking a three-day blitz that left the group losing its top two commanders and other dozens of militants.
Israel says the West Bank raids are designed to smash militant networks and thwart future attacks. The Palestinians see the attacks as further entrenchment of Israel’s 56-year indefinite occupation of lands they seek for a future independent state.
According to an Associated Press tally, 105 Palestinians, about half of them militants or suspected attackers, have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since early 2023.