Photo: ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance/Getty Images

The Israeli military and militants in the Gaza Strip exchanged fire on Wednesday, beginning a second day of fighting after an Israeli airstrike killed a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander on Tuesday, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The death of Bahaa Abu el-Atta has set off the heaviest fighting in months — and Israel's targeting of the Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed group, comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to paint Iran as Israel's primary nemesis in the region.

  • The Israeli military previously set its sight on Hamas, which governs Gaza. "In this cycle, the army appears to be targeting Islamic Jihad’s infrastructure...delivering a blow to the militant group that is the second-largest in the strip," per the Post.
  • "Islamic Jihad is much smaller than Hamas. But with the strong support of Iran, it has become much more aggressive in its confrontations with Israel. It often acts without Hamas’ support," according to Politico.
  • GZERO notes that Hamas is left stuck in the middle — wary of the Islamic Jihad starting a full-blown conflict, but not wanting to be seen as pandering to Israel by cracking down.

The state of play: At least 19 Palestinians have died since the conflict started, of whom at least six were militants, per the Post. Israel has reported no fatalities but dozens of minor injuries.

  • The Israeli military says it has detected about 220 missile launches from Gaza into Israel. Its sophisticated defense system, the Iron Dome, has successfully stopped dozens of the projectiles.
  • Gaza has essentially shut down, with almost 300,000 students staying at home. Many schools in southern Israel are closed as well, Reuters reports.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 21,020,216 — Total deaths: 761,393— Total recoveries: 13,048,303Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 5,289,323 — Total deaths: 167,948 — Total recoveries: 1,774,648 — Total tests: 64,831,306Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health.
  4. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.

Facebook goes after Apple

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Facebook is seeking to force a face-off with Apple over its 30% in-app purchase commission fee, which Facebook suggests hurts small businesses struggling to get by during the pandemic.

The big picture: Facebook has never publicly gone after Apple, a key strategic partner, this aggressively. Both companies face antitrust scrutiny, which in Apple's case has centered on the very fee structure Facebook is now attacking.