IDF says it started strikes in Gaza after 4 days of Islamic Jihad threats

The Israel Defense Forces said Friday afternoon they had begun striking targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad that Israel would take action if the terrorist group did not renounce its intentions to carry out attacks against the country.

The terror group had been threatening attacks since Tuesday in response to the arrest of its leader in the West Bank, prompting days of road closures and community closures in areas near the border under immediate threat.

The Israeli army said it was striking in the Gaza Strip and a ‘special situation’ had been declared on the home front, up to 80 kilometers from Gaza – an area stretching as far north as Tel -Aviv.

A “special situation” is a legal term used in times of emergency, granting authorities greater jurisdiction over the civilian population in order to streamline efforts to protect the population.

Residents of areas near the border have been instructed to stay close to bomb shelters, and in areas of Lachish and the central Negev, gatherings have been limited. Public bomb shelters have been opened in the city of Beersheba.

The military has deployed the Iron Dome missile defense system in central Israel in recent days amid concerns about missile attacks from Gaza.

The IDF added that the name of the operation was called “Breaking Dawn”.

Palestinian media reports that the IDF struck an apartment in a seven-storey building in northern Gaza, and other sites in the Strip.

According to reports, a senior Islamic Jihad commander, Tayseer Jabari, was killed. Jabari reportedly replaced Baha Abu al-Ata as commander of Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza, after his assassination by Israel in 2019.

An unnamed security source told the Ynet news site that “efforts to get Islamic Jihad to withdraw” from its intentions to carry out an attack “have been exhausted”.

He said “this is why Israel launched an attack on the group” and added that Israel would work to keep the terrorist organization Hamas out of the conflict.

Tensions around the Gaza Strip increased after the arrest of Bassam Saadi in Jenin on Monday evening. Since then, the Israel Defense Forces have reinforced their forces and closed roads along the border for fear of an imminent anti-tank guided missile or sniper attack by Islamic Jihad. The precautions have largely brought residents of border communities under control.

“To our enemies in general and to the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, I say explicitly: ‘Your time is limited. The threat will be eliminated one way or another,” Gantz told a press conference at the army’s Southern Command in Beersheba.

Gantz said the terror group was holding the citizens of Gaza “hostage” because due to their threats, the Erez crossing – used by thousands of Palestinians daily – remains closed.

“Whoever steals the livelihoods of 14,000 workers, rots agricultural products at the crossings and causes a shortage of electricity and food, above all harms the people of Gaza and will bear the responsibility,” he said. -he declares.

Earlier, Palestinian media, quoting the manager of the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing, said six fuel trucks were to be transferred later on Friday to ensure that the coastal enclave’s only power station does not run out. won’t stop. There was no immediate confirmation from Israel on the move.

Israeli soldiers and police block the Karmiya junction near the border with the Gaza Strip, August 5, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Gantz said the Israeli defense establishment was preparing for “any action that will be necessary, on all fronts in the south, center and north. We will continue operational activity in all sectors for as long as necessary. »

In a statement to the world, “especially” to countries involved in Gaza, Gantz said Israel was “acting with restraint” but would act with “power” to return civilian life in southern Israel to “full normality.” “.

“We’re not looking to fight, but we won’t hesitate if we have to,” Gantz said.

Gantz’s remarks came after a two-hour assessment held with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and military officials.

Military leader Aviv Kohavi (right), Defense Minister Benny Gantz (center) and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar hold an assessment at IDF Southern Command HQ in Beersheba, August 5, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defence)

Gantz then traveled to meet with mayors and community leaders from towns along the border with Gaza, as anger mounted on the closures. In some cases, residents have not been able to leave their town since Tuesday morning.

Gantz said residents of Gaza’s border communities “have demonstrated a civil resilience over the years that deserves our full appreciation.”

“Our mission is to ensure that the tension ends and the routine returns. I say to the people of the surrounding area, we are with you and we will do everything necessary to protect you, in a responsible, decisive manner and according to considerations of the use of force which will lead to the required result, ”said Gantz during the conference. Press.

Also on Friday, the Walla news site reported that a UN representative had visited Saadi’s family in Jenin, as part of efforts to avert an eruption of violence.

On Thursday, Gaza’s military division was reinforced with artillery, engineers, infantry, armor and special forces.

Over the past few days, as armed drones hovered over the Gaza Strip, the IDF worked to thwart attempts by Islamic Jihad squads to launch such an attack on the border.

Military leader Aviv Kohavi also visited southern Israel on Friday. On Thursday, Kohavi asked the IDF to increase army readiness for an escalation, strengthen defenses and increase intelligence efforts. He also approved offensive action plans in the event of an attack by Islamic Jihad on the border.

West Bank leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, Bassem Saadi, is seen shortly after his arrest by Israeli troops on August 2, 2022. (Courtesy)

According to the Shin Bet, Saadi, 61, has been imprisoned and released seven times by Israel over the years. The Shin Bet said that in recent months, Saadi had “worked even harder to restore the PIJ’s activities, and was behind the creation of a large military force for the organization in [the northern West Bank] in general and in Jenin in particular.

“His presence was an important factor in radicalizing ISIS operatives in the field,” the Shin Bet added.

Jenin is widely considered a hotbed of terrorist activity. Gunmen and other assailants behind several deadly terror attacks earlier this year came from the town and its refugee camp.

In a pre-dawn raid in the West Bank town of Burqin, near Jenin, troops arrested a wanted Palestinian, the army said Friday morning.

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