Islamic Jihad Violates Ceasefire; IDF Resumes Airstrikes in Gaza

Israeli aircraft struck PIJ targets overnight Thursday in response to continued rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip which violated the ceasefire agreement announced earlier that day

IDF strikes in Gaza (Photo: AP)

The ceasefire reached between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the IDF lasted only several hours before the terror group violated the truce by firing five rockets at Israel. The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted two of the projectiles, the military said.

Later on Thursday, several rocket barrages were launched at Israel from the coastal enclave. Late Thursday night, two rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel, and were shot down by the Iron Dome system, the IDF said.

The ceasefire, brokered by Egypt and the UN, came into effect after 48 hours of fierce fighting, which followed the targeted killing of senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza early Tuesday morning.

Throughout Thursday, Israel abided by the ceasefire and refrained from launching retaliatory strikes. However, the IDF resumed its airstrikes in the early hours of Friday morning.

“We are currently striking Islamic Jihad terror targets in Gaza. This comes after rockets were indiscriminately fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians today,” the military said in a statement.

According to the IDF, the strikes targeted a PIJ facility used to manufacture rocket parts in Rafah and a brigade headquarters in Khan Younis, “in which there were several offices belonging to PIJ commanders.”

“The IDF views with great severity the violation of the ceasefire and the firing of rockets at Israel. It is at high alert and will continue to act, as necessary, against attempts to harm Israeli citizens,” the military said.

In the two days of fighting that followed al-Ata’s assassination, more than 450 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from Gaza. About 60 percent of the projectiles fell in open areas, and 90 percent of the rockets fired at built-up areas were successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.

During Operation Black Belt, Israeli forces struck dozens of PIJ targets across Gaza, including rocket caches, underground terror infrastructure, sites for manufacturing long-range rockets, training compounds, and others.

According to the Gaza health ministry, 34 Gazans were killed and at least 111 were wounded.

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman said Thursday that Operation Black Belt achieved all of its objectives. “The purpose of the operation was to improve the security situation in the south by weakening the PIJ and the continued promotion of the stabilization process. In this operation, we struck a heavy blow to the PIJ’s operational capabilities.”

 

[Sources: The Times of Israel, AFP, Haaretz, Israel National News]

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