Tensions between Israel and Islamic Jihad have risen since Friday. Israeli forces continued to bombard the Gaza Strip on Saturday, and the armed group fired rockets at the Jewish state. Authorities in the Palestinian sector reported that 15 people, including a five-year-old girl, were killed, and 125 wounded in Israeli shelling. Two people in Israel were injured by shrapnel, according to emergency services. The Israeli army is preparing for a “week” of raids on the Gaza Strip.
For the first time since the outbreak of new violence that began on Friday, sirens sounded in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv at the end of the afternoon. So far, they have raised their voices in towns near Gaza, where Islamic Jihad has launched rockets in response to the Israeli army’s bombing. The military wing of the Al-Quds Brigades, in a short statement, confirmed that it had launched a “large barrage of missiles” towards Israeli cities in Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Sderot. On Friday, they claimed to have sent more than 100 missiles into Israeli territory.
“The battle is still in its infancy,” said Mohammed al-Hindi, the organization’s official, in a press statement. This is after Egyptian sources told AFP that Cairo, the historical mediator between Israel and armed groups in Gaza, was trying to establish mediation.
19 Islamic Jihad activists arrested in the West Bank
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Israel announced the arrest of 19 members of the Islamic Jihad movement in the West Bank. The Israeli army announced in a press statement that soldiers and “Shin Bet” agents had arrested 20 people, “including 19 members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization.” This is the worst confrontation between the Jewish state and armed organizations in Gaza since the Eleven Days War in May 2021, which left 260 dead on the Palestinian side, including fighters, and 14 people dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities. .
A military spokesman said the army was “preparing for a week-long operation” and “is not currently conducting ceasefire negotiations” after reports that Egypt is trying to establish mediation to calm the situation in the Palestinian enclave where the exchange of fire continues.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on television on Friday that “Israel has carried out a precise anti-terror operation against an immediate threat.” Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. (…) We will do everything we can to defend our people.”
No more electricity due to lack of fuel
Israel has claimed 24 hours ago that it targeted sites belonging to the Islamic Jihad movement, of which 15 fighters were killed, according to the Israeli army. Among them is the group’s commander-in-chief, Tayseer al-Jabari. This new escalation, the worst between the two enemies since last year’s blitzkrieg, has already deprived the little tongue of the land sandwiched between Egypt, the Mediterranean, Israel and its 2.3 million residents of their only central electricity.
The electricity company said on Saturday it had “stopped (working) due to a shortage” of fuel, after the Jewish state, which has imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007, closed border crossings in recent days.
The Gaza Health Ministry has warned that the coming hours will be “critical and difficult” due to the power outage. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator (OCHA) in the Palestinian Territories, Lynne Hastings, has called for “fuel, food and medical supplies” to be allowed into the enclave. An AFP journalist pointed out that Gaza City residents are holed up in their homes all day long.
Paris calls on all parties to exercise restraint
France expressed its deep concern over the ongoing escalation in Gaza and deplored the Palestinian civilian casualties. It condemns the rocket attacks on Israeli territory and reiterates its unconditional adherence to Israel’s security. France calls on all parties to exercise restraint to avoid any further escalation in which the civilian population will be the first victim.” Paris also referred to “the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace, dignity and security, and the need to restore a political horizon with the aim of achieving a just and lasting peace.”
A spokesman for the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said on Saturday that the European Union is following the violence in the Gaza Strip with “deep concern” and calls on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint” in order to avoid a new escalation. Peter Stano insisted that “Israel has the right to protect its civilian population, but everything must be done to prevent a wider conflict, which would primarily affect the civilian population on both sides and lead to new victims and more suffering.”
For its part, Russia, through its Foreign Ministry, said it was “extremely concerned” and also called for “maximum restraint”. “We note with deep concern the development of events, which could lead to the resumption of an all-out military confrontation and further aggravate the already deplorable humanitarian situation in Gaza,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement. “All parties involved exercise the utmost restraint.”
Tehran: Palestinians ‘not alone’
General Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, stressed that the Palestinians are “not alone” in their fight against Israel. “Today, all the jihadist capabilities against the Zionists are on the ground in a united formation to work for the liberation of Jerusalem and support the rights of the Palestinians,” the general, whose country is considered the main supporter of the Palestinians, wrote in a statement. For his part, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi considered that Israel “has once again shown the world its nature as an occupier and an aggressor.”