51 people were killed in Palestine as Israel continues to bombard and launch air strikes on Gaza. The fresh strikes in the territory are the worst escalation of violence since a war last year.
Since Friday afternoon, Israel has been launching a series of air strikes and artillery fire on the coastal enclave, announcing it has started a new military operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza; the operation was dubbed “Breaking Dawn”.
The Israeli attacks targeted different areas: Khan Yunis and Rafah in the south of the strip, al-Shuja’iya neighborhood and Jabalia camp in the north, and a residential building in central Gaza.
Regarding the displaced families, 40 families are known to have been displaced since Israeli occupation launched its attack on Gaza, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
The Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing also confirmed that 650 housing units have been partially damaged, of which 29 are uninhabitable, 11 are totally destroyed, while the others sustained minor damage.
The aggression comes after days of tension with the Islamic Jihad movement after a senior leader of the group, Bassam al-Saadi, was brutally arrested and attacked last Monday by Israeli forces during a military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
Saadi’s son-in-law, Ashraf al-Jada, was also arrested in the raid; Saadi’s wife sustained injuries during the arrest and was taken to hospital for treatment. During the same raid, Israeli forces also shot and killed 17-year-old Palestinian Dirar al-Kafrayni.
The strikes also came after days of border closures, including the closure of the Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing, which is responsible for the flow of fuel needed for Gaza’s sole power plant.
Earlier this week, Israeli forces closed roads around Gaza and sent reinforcements to the border as it braced for a response after the arrest of al-Saadi.
Quoting Ahmed Mudalal, an Islamic Jihad official in Gaza, Quds News Network, reported that the movement had made demands on Israeli occupation through Egyptian mediators, including the release of the al-Saadi and another detainee who has been on an open-ended hunger strike for over 155 days in protest against his administrative detention, a halt to West Bank raids, and the lifting of the Gaza blockade. He said they have not yet received a response.
Responding to the aggressive attacks, the Islamic Jihad said in a statement, “The enemy has begun a war targeting our people, and we all have the duty to defend ourselves and our people, and not allow the enemy to get away with its actions which are aimed at undermining the resistance and national steadfastness.”
Ziad al-Nakhalah, head of the Islamic Jihad, said there are no limits in this round of fighting and that Tel Aviv will be targeted, Quds News Network reported.
“There are no red lines in this battle and Tel Aviv will fall under the rockets of resistance, as well as all Israeli cities,” he said.
The report quoting Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesperson for Hamas, said the resistance factions in Gaza are united and ready to respond with “full force”.
In response to the Israeli airstrikes, Palestinian resistance factions have fired rockets from Gaza towards ‘Israel’ and illegal settlements.
Israel’s military warned on Saturday that deadly air raids on Gaza could last a week, as it attacked the besieged coastal enclave for a third day in the worst aggression since last year’s war, AFP reported.
An Israeli military spokesman said its forces were “preparing for the operation to last a week,” and told AFP that the forces are “not currently holding ceasefire negotiations”.