The Israeli military says it is attacking targets in the Gaza Strip in response to threats from a Palestinian militant group there.
At least 10 Palestinians, including a child and a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander, have been killed, Gaza’s health ministry said.
This follows several days of tension after Israel arrested a senior PIJ member in West Coast occupied.
The Gaza-based PIJ had threatened to retaliate by bombing central Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel will not allow “terrorist organizations to set the agenda”.
“Let anyone who rises up to harm Israel know that we will get them. Our security forces will act against Islamic Jihad terrorists to remove the threat from the citizens of Israel,” he said.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were attacking PIJ-linked sites. They include the Palestine Tower in Gaza City, which was hit by a powerful explosion that sent no smoke billowing from the building.
Four PIJ militants – including the commander, Tayseer Jabari – and a five-year-old girl have been among those killed since the attacks began, local health officials say.
They say another 55 people were injured.
An Israeli army spokesman said the IDF was “assuming that around 15” militants had been killed.
Israel’s Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told Channel 12 News: “We don’t know how this is going to play out… but it could take time… This could be a long round. [konflikti] and difficult,” the Times of Israel reported.
Speaking during a visit to the Iranian capital, Tehran, PIJ secretary general Ziyad al-Nakhala said “we will respond with force to this aggression and there will be a war in which our people will win.” .
“There are no red lines for this battle… and Tel Aviv will be under the resistance’s missiles.”
On Monday night, Israel arrested Bassem Saadi, who is reported to be the head of PIJ in the West Bank. He was held in the Jenin area as part of an ongoing series of arrest operations following a wave of attacks by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians that left 17 Israelis and two Ukrainians dead. Two of the attackers came from the Jenin district.
After the arrest of Bassem Saadi, Israel increased security measures for communities near its border with Gaza, warning that the PIJ intended to attack civilians and soldiers. Road closures brought towns and villages in southern Israel to a screeching halt.
PIJ, which is backed by Iran, is headquartered in Damascus, Syria and is one of the strongest militant groups in Gaza. It has been responsible for many attacks, including rockets and shootings against Israel.
Israel and the PIJ fought a five-day conflict in November 2019 after fighting erupted following Israel’s killing of a PIJ commander whom Israel said was planning an imminent attack. The violence left 34 Palestinians dead and 111 injured, while 63 Israelis required medical treatment.
Israel said 25 of the Palestinians killed were militants, including those who were hit while preparing to launch rockets.
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