Palestinian commander killed as Israel strikes after militant threats

August 05, 2022
The PIJ is one of the main militant groups in Gaza.
The PIJ is one of the main militant groups in Gaza.

GAZA — The Israeli military says it is attacking targets in the Gaza Strip in response to threats from a Palestinian militant group there.

At least eight Palestinians, including a child and a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander, have been killed, Gaza's health ministry says.

It follows days of tensions after Israel arrested a senior PIJ member in the occupied West Bank.

The Gaza-based PIJ had threatened to hit back by bombing central Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Israel would not allow "terrorist organizations to set the agenda".

"Let anyone who rises up to harm Israel know that we will get to them. Our security forces will act against Islamic Jihad terrorists to remove the threat from the citizens of Israel," he said.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was striking sites linked to the PIJ. They include the high-rise Palestine Tower in Gaza City, hit in a loud explosion which left smoke pouring from the building.

Four PIJ militants — including the commander, Tayseer Jabari — and a five-year-old girl have been among those killed since the strikes started, local health officials say.

Israel's interior minister Ayelet Shaked told Channel 12 News: "We don't know how this will play out... but this could take time... This could be a lengthy round [of conflict] and a hard one", the Times of Israel reported.

In recent days, Israel had taken heightened security measures for communities near its border with Gaza, warning that PIJ intended to attack civilians and soldiers. The roadblocks had brought towns and villages in southern Israel to a grinding halt.

PIJ, which is backed by Iran, has its headquarters in Damascus, Syria, and is one of the strongest militant groups in Gaza. It has been responsible for many attacks, including rocket-fire and shootings against Israel.

Israel and PIJ fought a five-day conflict in November 2019 after fighting erupted following the killing by Israel of a PIJ commander who Israel said was planning an imminent attack. The violence left 34 Palestinians dead and 111 injured, while 63 Israelis needed medical treatment.

Israel said 25 of the Palestinians killed were militants, including those hit preparing to launch rockets. — BBC

August 05, 2022
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