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Israel and Palestine trade rocket fire as region teeters on brink

Israel and Palestine exchange rocket fire as the region teeters on the brink of a new war

Violence has so far remained largely contained (Image: Getty/EPA/Reuters/AP)

Israeli jets bombed the Gaza Strip on Saturday, hours after a spate of airstrikes killed a senior Palestinian militant and at least 10 others.

A five-year-old girl also died when the two-storey house of a high-ranking commander of the Islamic Jihad group was leveled by two bombs shortly before noon on Friday.

Radicals in Gaza responded by firing at least 160 rockets at Tel Aviv and other cities.

It is the worst spasm of cross-border violence since an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas last year.

But the violence remains largely contained, with any escalation largely dependent on whether Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, decides to join the fighting.

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epa10108289 Rocket launch by fighters of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, on August 5, 2022 in eastern Gaza City (issued August 6, 2022). At least 10 people, including a child, were killed in a series of Israeli airstrikes on several targets in the Gaza Strip, including an apartment building in the Al-Rimal neighborhood, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, announced that senior leader Tayseer al-Jabari was killed in the attacks. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

Rockets fired by fighters from Al-Quds Brigades (Image: EPA)

epa10108294 Rocket launch by fighters of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in eastern Gaza City on August 5, 2022 (issued August 6, 2022). At least 10 people, including a child, were killed in a series of Israeli airstrikes on several targets in the Gaza Strip, including an apartment building in the Al-Rimal neighborhood, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, announced that senior leader Tayseer al-Jabari was killed in the attacks. EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

The Al-Quds Brigades are the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Image: EPA)

Smoke billows after Israeli air strikes on a building in Gaza City, Friday, August 5, 2022. Palestinian officials say Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed several people, including a senior militant, and wounded 40 others. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Smoke billows from Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City (Image: AP)

Rockets fired by Palestinian militants at Israel, in Gaza City, Friday, August 5, 2022. Palestinian officials say Israeli airstrikes on Gaza have killed at least 10 people, including a senior militant, and wounded 55 others. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Dozens of rockets have been fired at Israeli cities (Image: AP)

KHAN YUNIS, GAZA - AUGUST 05: Smoke and flames rise as Israeli airstrikes continue over the Gaza Strip on August 05, 2022 in Khan Yunis, Gaza. The Israeli army said on Friday that it had begun conducting raids on some Gaza Strip targets. (Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Israeli army said Friday it had begun raiding some targets in the Gaza Strip (Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Flames and smoke rise during an Israeli airstrike amid fighting between Israel and Gaza in Gaza City August 6, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

A destroyed building in Gaza City (Image: Reuters)

Palestinians inspect a house hit in an Israeli airstrike amid fighting between Israel and Gaza, in Gaza City, August 6, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinians inspect a house hit in an Israeli airstrike (Image: Reuters)

The Palestinian Health Ministry said a five-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among those killed in the Gaza Strip, without distinguishing between civilian and militant casualties.

The Israeli military said around 15 militants were killed, according to initial estimates. Dozens were wounded.

Islamic Jihad said Taiseer al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was among the dead. He had succeeded another militant killed in an airstrike in 2019.

This triggered a heavy round of fighting between Israel and the militant group.

An Israeli military spokesman said the attacks were in response to an “imminent threat” posed by two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles.

The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and was responsible for “multiple attacks” on Israel.

Hundreds marched in a funeral procession for him and others who were killed, with many mourners waving Palestinian and Islamic Jihad flags and calling for revenge.

GAZA CITY, GAZA - AUGUST 05: People attend a memorial service for the 4 Palestinians who died as a result of the Israeli attack in Gaza City, Gaza on August 05, 2022. The Israeli army said Friday it had begun conducting raids on some targets in the Gaza Strip. At least ten people were killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Friday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement. (Photo by Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

People attend a memorial service for four Palestinians who lost their lives (Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Palestinians react at a hospital after Israeli attacks in Gaza City August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinians react in a hospital after Israeli attacks in Gaza City (Image: Reuters)

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Palestinians inspect the ruins of a collapsed building (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli media showed the skies over southern and central Israel lit up by missiles and interceptors from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

It was not immediately clear how many rockets were fired, and there were no immediate reports of casualties on the Israeli side.

Overnight, Israel attacked rocket launchers, rocket construction sites and Islamic Jihad positions. In addition, 19 Islamic Jihad fighters were arrested in the West Bank, the military said.

UN special envoy for the region Tor Wennesland said: “The firing of missiles must cease immediately and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation.”

After the initial Israeli attacks, hundreds gathered outside the Shifa Hospital morgue in Gaza City. Some went in to identify loved ones and later reappeared in tears.

“May God have vengeance on spies,” one shouted, referring to Palestinian whistleblowers working with Israel.

Secretary of Defense Benny Gantz approved an order to call up 25,000 reserve soldiers if needed, while the military announced a “special situation” on the home front, closing schools and restricting activities in communities within 50 miles of the border.

Israel earlier this week closed roads around Gaza and sent reinforcements to the border as it prepared for a revenge attack after Monday’s arrest of Bassam al-Saadi, a leader of Islamic Jihad, in a military attack in the occupied West Bank.

A teenage member of the group was killed in a gun battle between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.

Hamas seized power in the coastal strip from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Their last war with Israel took place in May 2021.

Tensions rose again earlier this year after a spate of attacks in Israel, near-daily military operations in the West Bank and tensions at a flashpoint in the holy site of Jerusalem.

In 2005, Israel withdrew troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/08/06/israel-and-palestine-exchange-rocket-fire-as-region-teeters-on-brink-17138482/ Israel and Palestine trade rocket fire as region teeters on brink

Justin Scacco

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