The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said on Friday that it had launched more than 100 rockets at Israel, warning that a wider offensive would follow. The assault was launched in response to an Israeli military operation that killed one of the PIJ’s most senior commanders and continued to rock Gaza overnight.
Israeli jets struck an apartment building in Gaza earlier on Friday, eliminating PIJ commander Taysir al-Jabari. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also targeted an additional 10-20 PIJ operatives with missiles and artillery, in a dramatic offensive it named ‘Operation Breaking Dawn’.
The PIJ immediately threatened to strike Tel Aviv with missiles in response, and within hours of al-Jabari’s death, air raid sirens could be heard across southern Israel. Video footage shot by RT Arabic correspondent Dalia Nammari showed some of these projectiles passing overhead near the Israel-Gaza border, with some intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense batteries.
The PIJ said that it fired more than 100 rockets at towns in southern and central Israel, adding that the barrage was “just the beginning” of its response to al-Jabari’s assassination. The IDF claimed that around 80 rockets were fired from Gaza, with around half falling short over the Palestinian enclave. Of the 46 that made it into Israeli territory, 33 were intercepted by the Iron Dome while the rest fell in open areas, the IDF stated.
The PIJ is believed to possess homemade al-Quds rockets, as well as anti-tank missiles and the Qassam rockets more commonly deployed by Hamas, a larger Palestinian militant group.
Amid the salvo from Gaza, Israeli aircraft launched a wave of further airstrikes on Gaza, targeting what the IDF said were “weapons production sites, warehouses and firing positions.” Video footage captured the moment an alleged rocket firing position and two storage warehouses were obliterated with missiles.
Palestinian officials said that at least ten people were killed by Israel’s airstrikes, including a five-year-old girl, while more than 55 additional Palestinians were wounded.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced earlier on Friday that he had authorized the call-up of some 25,000 reservists, while IDF spokesman Ron Kochav told Channel 12 that the operation against PIJ would “take a long time.”
In his own address to the nation later on Friday evening, Prime Minister Yair Lapid used similar terms, saying that the battle “will take as long as it takes.”
“Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who are trying to harm its civilians,” Lapid stated. “This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks – of any kind – from Gaza toward Israeli territory.”
The latest escalation began when Israeli forces arrested PIJ’s West Bank leader, Bassem Saadi, in the city of Jenin on Monday. A Palestinian teenager was killed in the raid on Saadi’s home, triggering an outcry across the Palestinian territories. As the PIJ placed its fighters on high alert, Israeli officials repeatedly warned this week of impending revenge attacks.