Gaza air strikes claim lives of 12 including women and children by Israeli forces
At least 12 people were killed, including women and children, as Israel launched a series of air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip at dawn on Tuesday.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed that women and children were among the dead, but did not immediately reveal more details about the identities of the victims.
A journalist from Agence France-Presse in Gaza saw the roof of a building burning immediately after the strikes, as well as ambulances evacuating the victims.
The Israeli army claimed that it targeted three leaders of the Palestinian armed Islamic Jihad movement and hit “weapons manufacturing sites” belonging to the group.
Army spokesman Richard Hecht told reporters the force “achieved what we wanted to achieve” with the night strikes, which he said involved 40 aircraft.
The armed group confirmed the killing of three of its senior officials, describing them in a statement as Jihad Ghannam, secretary of the Military Council of the Al-Quds Brigades, and Khalil al-Bahtini, a member of the council and commander of the military wing in northern Gaza. .
And the third, Tariq Ezzedine, was described by the Islamic Jihad Movement as “one of the leaders of military action” in the occupied West Bank, operating from Gaza.
An AFP photographer in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, saw the body of a man named Ghannam.
Islamic Jihad said in a statement, “We mourn the leaders, their wives and a number of their children who were killed in a cowardly Zionist crime,” vowing that “the blood of the martyrs will increase the resolve” of the movement.
An AFP photographer saw the body of a boy in the morgue of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, where mourners had gathered.
Asked by reporters about child casualties, Hecht said, “If there are some tragic deaths, we will look into it.”
AFP journalists said that explosions from the airstrikes, which began shortly after 2 a.m. (11 p.m. GMT), could be heard for about two hours.
The operation came less than a week after the Islamic Jihad movement declared a truce over Gaza – with Egyptian mediation – in the wake of a new escalation of violence.
Israeli and Gaza armed groups exchanged fire across the border after the killing in Israeli custody of Khader Adnan, who had been on a hunger strike for 87 days after his arrest over his links to the Islamic Jihad movement.
On Tuesday, the armed group said Israel had “disdained all the overtures of the mediators” and vowed to “avenge the leaders” killed in the recent air strikes.
In separate statements about the killing of a figure from the Islamic Jihad movement, the Israeli army confirmed that it “will continue to work for the security of civilians in the State of Israel.”
The army presented Ghanan as “a senior member of the organization” who was entrusted with coordinating weapons and transferring funds between Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Israel said Bahtini “was responsible for firing rockets at Israel last month.”
Ezzedine had recently been “planning and directing (sic) multiple attacks against Israeli civilians” in the West Bank, where he was, which had been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.
Israel sentenced him to 25 years in prison for his involvement in suicide attacks in the 2000s, before he was released in a 2011 prisoner exchange and transferred to Gaza, according to the military.
The military is “looking into where this thing will develop,” Hecht said. The military has instructed Israeli residents 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Gaza border to stay near shelters until Wednesday evening.
“The assassination of the leadership in a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but rather with greater resistance,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement.
The armed group’s spokesman, Hazem Qassem, warned that Israel “bears responsibility for the repercussions of this escalation.”
Armed groups in Gaza and Israel have fought multiple wars since Hamas took control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007.
A three-day conflict last August in Gaza killed 49 Palestinians and left no one dead on the Israeli side.
Tuesday’s casualties bring the number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year to 120 so far.
Nineteen Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian were killed during the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources on both sides.
You must log in to post a comment.