Renewed escalation in the Middle East conflict

“The military is prepared for a week’s operational activity, as directed by the political level and the chief of staff,” the military said on Saturday. Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Friday: “Israel is not interested in a broad operation in Gaza, but it is not afraid of it either.”

After threats from the militant Palestinians, the Israeli military launched the large-scale military operation Dawn on Friday. The high-ranking commander who, according to Israel, is responsible for rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and who planned attacks on civilians, also died.

Attacks on the Gaza Strip

Israeli forces are preparing for an extended deployment after the killing of a Palestinian militant leader in the Gaza Strip.

Over 120 injured

According to Palestinian sources, three residential buildings were hit in the attacks on Saturday. As a result, at least 15 people have died since Friday and 125 have been injured by the Israeli airstrikes. A five-year-old girl and two women were among the dead.

According to the Israeli military, only weapons production facilities, rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities have been destroyed. Reports of civilian deaths are known and being investigated, a military official said on Saturday. Around 190 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday, the Israeli military said on Saturday. They either fell on open ground or were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Numerous cities, including Tel Aviv, opened public air raid shelters. In the West Bank, 20 arrests were made during anti-terrorist raids during the night, 19 of which were linked to the PIJ, according to the military.

APA/AFP/Jack Guez

The Israeli missile defense system Iron Dome intercepted numerous missiles from the Gaza Strip

PIJ: Also airport as destination

The PIJ has close ties to Iran, Israel’s nemesis, and is the second most powerful military force in Gaza after Hamas. “The fighters of Islamic Jihad are ready to continue the war,” the militant organization said on Saturday, according to media reports. The rockets towards Israel were also aimed at Ben Gurion International Airport in the center of the country.

The latest outbreak of violence was preceded by the arrest of two senior members of Islamic Jihad early last week. As a result, two border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip were closed. As a result, the only power plant in the Gaza Strip had to be shut down because no more diesel reached the narrow coastal strip. The power supply in the Palestinian territories therefore had to be reduced from twelve to four hours. An employee of the electricity company spoke of a “catastrophic situation”.

Explosion after an Israeli rocket hit Gaza City

Reuters/Mohammed Salem

Israeli attacks also hit targets in Gaza City

Mediation attempts from Egypt

The situation is reminiscent of the escalation in 2019. At that time, Israel had already specifically killed al-Jabari’s predecessor, Baha Abu al-Ata. This was followed at the time by 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.

In May last year, Egypt also brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. At that time, according to Palestinian information, more than 255 people died, according to Israeli information, 13 people died in Israel. More than 4,000 rockets were fired at Israel.

The EU and Russia call for restraint

This time, too, there are reports that Egypt, the UN and Qatar are trying to mediate. But Israel showed no interest. Islamic Jihad also announced that a ceasefire was not up for debate for the time being. The focus of the group is “on the battlefield”.

Both the EU and Russia called on both sides to exercise restraint on Saturday. Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the latest escalation was caused by the Israeli army and Palestinian groups responded with “massive and indiscriminate bombing” of Israeli territory. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Israel has “the right to protect its own people.” However, “everything must be done” to avoid a “more comprehensive conflict” and thus additional suffering for the civilian population.

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