Israel says it is attacking Gaza with warplanes and declared a “special situation on the home front” after days of tensions with the Palestinians, Al Jazeera reported.
The friction follows the arrest of a senior Palestinian leader in the occupied West Bank. A blast could be heard in Gaza City on Friday, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall building.
Palestinian medical sources told Al Jazeera that several wounded people arrived at the hospital as a result of the Israeli raids.
“The IDF [Israel Defense Force] is currently striking in the Gaza Strip. A special situation has been declared on the Israeli home front,” the report quoted the Israeli military as saying in a statement. It said further details would follow.
Israel closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it braced for a response after the arrest of a senior member of the Islamic Jihad group in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
Ahmed Mudalal, an Islamic Jihad official in Gaza, said the group had made demands of Israel through Egyptian mediators, including the release of the detained leader and another prisoner, a halt to West Bank raids, and the lifting of the Gaza blockade. He said they have not yet received a response.
It was not immediately clear what Israel was targeting or how much the situation would escalate, the international media reported.
Israel and Hamas, which governs Gaza, have fought four wars and engaged in several smaller skirmishes over the past 15 years.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz visited communities near Gaza on Friday, saying authorities were preparing “actions that will remove the threat from this region”, without elaborating.
“We will operate with internal resilience and external strength in order to restore routine life in Israel’s south,” he said. “We do not seek conflict, yet we will not hesitate to defend our citizens, if required.”