Tel Aviv Palestinian militants have fired rockets at Israel after the targeted killing of their leader. Sirens could be heard in several cities as far south as the coastal city of Tel Aviv on Friday night. According to Israeli media reports, the rockets landed in open areas or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. According to media reports, the city of Tel Aviv opened public air raid shelters out of fear of further attacks.
The military arm of the Palestinian organization Islamic Jihad (PIJ) declared late in the evening: “We are attacking Tel Aviv and the cities of the center and the surrounding area with more than 100 rockets.” This was the answer to the assassination of their leader Taisir al-Jabari.
Israeli forces had previously killed him after threats from the organization in a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip. According to the army, the senior commander was responsible for numerous rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and planned attacks on civilians. Islamic Jihad is classified as a terrorist organization by the EU and the US.
According to Palestinian sources, at least ten people were killed in the Israeli airstrikes, including Al-Jabari, a five-year-old child and other PIJ members. At least 75 people were injured. Hamas, the ruling party in the Gaza Strip, said: “The occupation (Hamas’s term for Israel) has crossed the red lines.”
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In 2019, Israel had already specifically killed al-Jabari’s predecessor, jihadi military chief Baha Abu al-Ata. This was followed at the time by massive rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israeli locations and counterattacks by the Israeli Air Force in the coastal strip. After a few days, a ceasefire was agreed with the help of Egyptian and United Nations negotiators.
According to the Israeli army, other jihad members were targeted in addition to Al-Jabari in the airstrike. They are said to have prepared an attack against Israel. PIJ military bases and buildings were also attacked in Gaza. An increased level of security was announced on Friday for the Israeli areas around the coastal strip.
Israeli attacks continued into the evening. Prime Minister Jair Lapid said: “The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations to set the agenda in the Gaza border towns and threaten Israeli citizens. Anyone who wants to attack Israel must know that we will get to them.” Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz has authorized the mobilization of 25,000 reservists. This was confirmed by his office on Friday evening. According to the military, the decision was made after assessing the security situation.
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On Monday, Bassem Saadi, the leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, was arrested during an Israeli anti-terrorist operation. The organisation’s military arm, Saraja al-Quds, then threatened to attack. The jihad is closely linked to Israel’s archenemy Iran and regularly carries out rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military cordoned off areas on the edge of the coastal strip for several days and increased the alert.
Around two million people live in the Gaza Strip under very poor conditions. Hamas, classified by the EU as a terrorist organization, violently seized power in 2007. Israel then tightened a blockade of the area, supported by Egypt. Both countries justify the measure with security interests.
Israel has repeatedly targeted Hamas political and military leaders in the past. Spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin, who was in a wheelchair, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2004. Later, Israel also killed his successor, Abdel Asis Rantisi, and in 2012, Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari.
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