Bloody weekend begins: Israel conducts airstrikes in Gaza, Palestinians fire dozens of rockets in retaliation

Israel conducted airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, taking out a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and, in response, the Palestinians fired dozens of rockets into Israel.

(Video Credit: The Telegraph)

Hamas Islamists reportedly control the area that was struck by Israel. They claim that ten people were killed, including a five-year-old girl. Seventy-five others were injured, according to the Daily Mail.

Israel’s ambulance service claimed there were no reports of casualties on their side of the border, while its military said the operation in Gaza had killed 15 “terrorists.”

Israel was forced to launch a “pre-emptive counter-terror operation against an immediate threat” from the Islamic Jihad terrorists according to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. The altercation occurs after days of rising tensions along the Gaza border.

The Islamic Jihad declared that the Israeli bombings amounted to a “declaration of war” and the terrorist group proceeded to launch more than 100 rockets toward Israel. Sirens could be heard in southern and central Israel. Television stations showed missiles being shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile batteries.

Explosions were said to be heard in Tel Aviv but there were no reports of sirens going off there.

Warning: Graphic Content

(Video Credit: Reuters )

Defence Minister Benny Gantz reportedly approved plans to call up 25,000 reservists following the airstrikes. The move indicates that Israel expects an extended confrontation.

Enraged Palestinians flooded the streets mourning the dead while Israel positioned tanks along the border. Hundreds of Palestinians, some holding flags, marched through the streets of Gaza, while lines formed outside bakeries and supermarkets as people stocked up on food and staples.

The Israeli military said Thursday that it was reinforcing its troops.

“Israel carried out a precise counterterror operation against an immediate threat,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared in a televised statement. He vowed to do “whatever it takes to defend our people.”

“Our fight is not with the people of Gaza. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis,” he asserted.

“This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks — of any kind — from Gaza towards Israeli territory,” Lapid said. “Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who are trying to harm its civilians.”

“Israel isn’t interested in a broader conflict in Gaza but will not shy away from one either,” he added, according to NPR.

The Israeli military tweeted that warplanes are targeting Islamic Jihad sites in Gaza that “severely affect the organization’s ability to develop military capabilities.”

The airstrikes by the Jewish state follow the arrest of Bassam al-Saadi, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad group, during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin earlier this week.

“There are no red lines in this battle and Tel Aviv will fall under the rockets of resistance, as well as all Israeli cities,” Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhalah said.

“The blood of our people and our mujahideen will not go in vain,” Hamas threatened in a statement.

Hamas claims Israel has “committed a new crime for which it must pay the price.”

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are considered terrorist organizations by the United States.

Palestinians, including patients and those with Israeli work permits, have been prevented from leaving the Gaza Strip since Tuesday in expectation of a violent conflict.

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