Israel prepared for "week of operations" in Gaza as fighting intensifies
Renewing its strikes on Gaza on Saturday, the Israeli military said it was prepared for a "week of operations," while the Islamic Jihad group continued to fire rockets from the enclave towards southern and central Israel.
The big picture: At least 24 Palestinians, including several children and two senior Islamic Jihad officials, have been killed and over 120 wounded since the fighting began on Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said without differentiating between civilian and militant casualties.
- The Israeli military said on Saturday it killed Khalid Mansour, the Islamic Jihad military commander in the southern Gaza Strip. On Friday, Israel killed Tayseer al-Jabari, another senior commander of the armed group.
- At least five Palestinians, including at least three children, were killed late Saturday local time in the northern Gaza city of Jabalia. Palestinian officials said they were killed in an Israeli airstrike, while an Israeli military spokesperson said there was no strike in the area at that time and that according to radar data and other information, including video, the incident was caused by a rocket that was fired by Palestinian militants and fell inside Gaza.
- An IDF spokesperson shared a video he said showed the rocket fired by the Palestinian militants failing and hitting Gaza.
- A 5-year-old girl was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Friday.
- IDF spokesperson Ran Kochav said in a briefing with reporters on Saturday morning that Israel is not holding any ceasefire negotiations. He said the IDF is preparing for a week-long operation that could take longer if needed.
Driving the news: The latest violence began on Friday after Israel launched air raids in Gaza amid rising tensions over the arrest of an Islamic Jihad member in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.
- Israeli officials said they had intelligence that showed that Islamic Jihad was preparing to conduct attacks against Israel and the strikes in Gaza were meant to "remove a concrete threat against Israeli civilians."
- Palestinian leaders, meanwhile, condemned the Israeli strikes and blamed Israel for the latest escalation. "The international community must press Israel to stop its aggression," the Palestinian president's office said.
- Islamic Jihad vowed to retaliate, saying the group has "no red lines."
State of play: The latest round of violence comes after a year of relative calm in Gaza following a devastating 11-day war in May 2021.
- While the economic situation in Gaza has slightly improved since then, minimal rebuilding has taken place, and the enclave — home to more than 2 million Palestinians — continues to face high rates of poverty.
- Israel closed Gaza border crossings earlier this week, exacerbating fuel shortages. Gaza's lone power plant shut down at noon local time on Saturday due to the shortages and said it would significantly reduce electricity.
What to watch: The violence threatens to escalate into a much bigger conflict if Hamas, which controls Gaza, joins the Islamic Jihad in the fighting.
- So far, Hamas has largely stayed on the sidelines, only issuing statements 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."
- Egyptian officials told Axios they are in touch with all different parties to try and calm down the situation but stressed it will take more time to reach a ceasefire.
- Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said the UN Security Council will hold closed consultations on Monday to discuss the escalation in Gaza.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.