Air strikes and rocket attacks push Israel and Gaza into second day of fighting

  • 24 dead and more than 200 wounded – Palestinian Ministry of Health
  • More than 400 missiles were fired at the Israeli army
  • Israel killed an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza on Friday

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli air strikes pounded Gaza as Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets into Israel on Saturday as cross-border clashes continued for a second day, killing at least six people, including four children. .

Hamas, which controls the Strip, said children were among those killed in an explosion near the Jabalia refugee camp and blamed Israel. The Israeli army denied responsibility, saying the explosion was caused by a failed missile launch by Islamic Jihad.

It distributed a video that appeared to show a missile being fired from Gaza at night and then immediately veering into a built-up area. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.

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As Israeli strikes continued, hitting what the military said were weapons stores hidden in residential areas and destroying a number of homes, Islamic Jihad launched rockets as far as Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub.

At least 24 Palestinians were killed, including six children, and 203 were wounded in the two days of shooting, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Palestinian militants fired more than 400 rockets into Israel – most of which were intercepted, setting off sirens and prompting people to flee to shelters. The Israeli Ambulance Service said there were no reports of serious injuries.

Egypt said it was in intensive talks to calm the situation. Further escalation will largely depend on whether Hamas chooses to join the fight on the side of the smaller Islamic Jihad.

Two Egyptian security sources said that an Egyptian intelligence delegation headed by Major General Ahmed Abdel-Khaleq arrived in Israel on Saturday and will head to Gaza for mediation talks. The sources added that they were hoping to secure a one-day ceasefire in order to carry out the talks.

“Intensive efforts were made this evening and the movement listened to mediators, but these efforts have not reached an agreement yet,” an Islamic Jihad official told Reuters late on Saturday.

The cross-border clash, which has shattered more than a year of relative calm around Gaza, began when Israel launched a surprise attack on Friday, killing a senior Islamic Jihad commander and hitting a string of what it said were military targets.

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About 2.3 million Palestinians are crammed into the narrow coastal Gaza Strip, where Israel and Egypt impose severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods in and out of the Strip and impose a naval blockade, due to security concerns.

Israel halted the planned transfer of fuel to Gaza shortly before its bombing on Friday, paralyzing the strip’s only power plant, reducing electricity to around eight hours a day and prompting warnings from health officials that hospitals would be severely affected within days.

The border has been largely quiet since May 2021, when 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and militants killed at least 250 in Gaza and 13 in Israel.

The envoys of the United Nations and the European Union in the Middle East expressed concern about the violence, and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli attacks. “Israel has the right to protect itself,” US Ambassador to Israel Tom Niedes said on Twitter.

The streets of Gaza were largely empty on Saturday afternoon. At the site where Islamic Jihad supreme commander Taysir al-Jabari was killed, rubble, glass and furniture were strewn along the street.

In Israel, the streets of the border town were largely empty while wildfires lit by rockets spread through nearby fields.

Islamic Jihad said it fired a missile at Israel’s main international gateway, Ben Gurion Airport, but the missile failed about 20 kilometers away. The Civil Aviation Authority said the airport was operating normally.

Tensions escalated this week after Israeli forces arrested a leader of the Islamic Jihad movement in the occupied West Bank, prompting threats of retaliation against the movement. The military said it arrested 19 other members of the group there on Saturday.

And the Israeli Defense Minister said that dozens of rocket facilities belonging to the movement in Gaza were destroyed.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who faces elections in November, said the operation thwarted an imminent attack by Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran and designated a terrorist organization by the West. Read more

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Writing by Ma’ayan Lobel, additional coverage by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan from Cairo, Amir Cohen from Sderot and Elie Berlzon from Ashkelon. Editing by Jason Neely, Christina Fincher and Jonathan Otis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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