Five questions about the new deadly violence in Gaza

It is the worst outbreak of violence since a blitzkrieg last year. Exchanges of fire arose in the Gaza Strip on Friday evening, August 5, between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This Saturday morning, the situation was still extremely tense: in Gaza, the streets are deserted, the shops closed and only the rocket alerts continue to sound. “L’Obs” looks back on this night of violence in five questions.

What ignited the powder?

It is the arrest, at the beginning of the week, of a leader of the group in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli authorities said they feared retaliatory actions from Gaza, a micro-territory ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas and where Islamic Jihad is well established, and launched a “preemptive attack”.

After the initial raids, Islamic Jihad accused the Jewish state of having “started a war”. “The Zionist enemy started this aggression and must expect us to fight relentlessly”said its secretary general, Ziad al-Nakhala, in an interview with Lebanese television Al-Mayadeen, in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh killed by Israeli security forces

“Israel conducted a precise counterterrorism operation against an immediate threat”Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on television, accusing the armed group of being “an Iranian proxy who wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis”. “We will do whatever it takes to defend our people”he assured.

What happened ?

On Friday evening, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and Israel exchanged several shots. The Israeli army continued until dawn on Saturday its strikes across the enclave which targeted sites belonging to Islamic Jihad, including weapons manufacturing, according to it.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed on Friday after a salvo of more than 100 rockets towards Israeli soil that it was only a “first response” to the assassination of one of its leaders in an Israeli strike.

“The Middle East is experiencing a turnaround”

Overnight, Israeli forces also arrested in the West Bank, a territory occupied since 1967 by the Jewish state, 19 members of Islamic Jihad, an Islamist organization considered terrorist by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

How many victims are to be deplored?

Fifteen Islamic Jihad fighters were killed in the raids, the Israeli army estimated. Gaza authorities reported 10 dead, including a five-year-old girl, and 79 injured.

The shots from Gaza caused no casualties or damage, according to Israel.

What are the consequences of the attack?

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, an enclave of 2.3 million inhabitants undermined by poverty and unemployment. In recent days, Israel had deployed reinforcements near the enclave and on Tuesday ordered the closure of border crossings, forcing thousands of Gazans, holders of work permits in Israel, to stay at home.

This closure has slowed the delivery of diesel, needed to power the Gaza power plant. This unique plant to stop working this Saturday, due to a lack of fuel.

Around 50 people who normally leave the enclave daily for treatment have also been affected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Is mediation possible?

This is the worst confrontation between the Jewish state and armed organizations in Gaza since the 11-day war in May 2021, which left 260 dead on the Palestinian side, including combatants, and 14 dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.

Egypt, a historic intermediary between Israel and the armed groups in Gaza, is trying to establish a mediation and could welcome an Islamic Jihad delegation this Saturday, Egyptian officials told AFP in Gaza. Egyptian diplomacy had previously indicated that it was holding discussions “relentless in order to calm the situation and preserve lives and property”.

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