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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

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Bill Clinton hospitalized for non-COVID-related infection

Former President Bill Clinton. Photo: Win McNamee/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was admitted to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Tuesday for a non-COVID-related infection, his spokesperson Angel Ureña said Thursday.

The latest: In an update on Friday, Ureña said Clinton's health indicators are "trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which has decreased significantly."

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
7 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.