Updated Aug 5, 2022 - World

Israeli strikes in Gaza kill at least 10 as tensions rise

Smoke rises after airstrikes carried out by Israeli army over Gaza Strip. Photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Smoke rises after airstrikes carried out by Israeli army in Gaza. Photo: Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza on Friday killed at least 10 Palestinians, including a 5-year-old girl and a commander of the Islamic Jihad group.

The latest: Air raid sirens went off in central and southern Israel late Friday local time. The Israeli military said that 80 rockets were fired from Gaza. About 46 reached Israeli territory and 33 of these were intercepted. No casualties were reported.

The big picture: Friday's strikes are likely to lead to a broader escalation after a year of relative calm in Gaza. The airstrikes came amid heightened tensions on the border between Israel and Gaza after the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad member in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

State of play: More than 40 were wounded in Friday's airstrikes, according to reports from Gaza.

  • The Israeli air force conducted several strikes against Tayseer al-Jabari, the Islamic commander who was killed, and other members of the group who an Israeli military spokesperson says were preparing to conduct attacks against Israel. The Israeli military spokesperson said several Islamic Jihad operatives were killed in the airstrikes.
  • The IDF ordered an emergency in all Israeli cities and towns within 50 miles of the border with Gaza. The IDF spokesperson said it is likely that rockets will be fired from Gaza towards central Israel, including Tel Aviv.

What they are saying: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a joint statement and stressed the airstrikes were meant to "remove a concrete threat against Israeli civilians."

  • Lapid said that Israel "won't allow terror organizations to set the agenda in southern Israel."

Islamic Jihad leader Zyad Nekhale said the organization will retaliate and Tel Aviv will be one of the targets.

  • "We have no red lines," Nekhale said in an interview from Iran on al-Mayadeen network.

Hamas issued a statement stressing that Israel "will be held responsible and will pay the price for its new crime. The military wings of the resistance are united and they will respond with force."

  • After Friday's airstrikes, Israel conveyed messages to Hamas through several mediators and stressed the operation was only targeting the Islamic Jihad, two sources with direct knowledge told Axios.
  • In the messages, Israel also demanded that Hamas stay out of the fighting and act to restrain the Islamic Jihad, avoiding further escalation, the sources said.

The Palestinian president's office in a statement condemned "the Israeli aggression against Gaza."

  • "We call to end it immediately. Israel is responsible for this escalation. The international community must press Israel to stop its aggression," the statement added.

A White House National Security Council spokesperson said the Biden administration is monitoring developments and called for calm on all sides.

  • "We firmly believe that Israel has the right to protect itself," the spokesperson added.

Driving the news: The Israeli military on Tuesday arrested Bassam al-Saadi, a senior Islamic Jihad official, in the city of Jenin in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

  • The Islamic Jihad, which receives support from Iran, had publicly threatened to retaliate for the arrest. Israeli officials said they had intelligence that the group was planning to use anti-tank missiles to attack military and civilian vehicles driving near the border.
  • All Israeli villages close to the border with Gaza have been on lockdown since Tuesday over fears of an attack.

In recent days, Egyptian intelligence, Qatari officials and UN diplomats held intense dialogue with Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Israel to try to avoid an escalation.

  • Israeli officials said the mediation efforts didn't bear fruit and the Islamic Jihad continued to prepare for the attacks.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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