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New Israeli strikes on Gaza, Islamic Jihad members arrested in the West Bank

The Israeli army announced on Saturday the arrest of 19 members of Islamic Jihad and new strikes on Gaza. Air raids that could last “a week” and presented as a “preventive attack” while the Jewish state has been targeted by rocket fire since the arrest of a leader of the organization in the occupied West Bank.

A renewed tension that raises fears of an escalation. Israeli forces expanded their offensive against Islamic Jihad on Saturday, August 6, by announcing the arrest of 19 members of this armed organization in the West Bank and by launching new strikes on Gaza which have already killed a dozen Palestinians.

Twenty people were arrested by soldiers and Shin Bet security service agents in operations on Saturday morning, “including 19 members associated with the Palestinian terrorist organization Islamic Jihad”, the Israeli army said. in a press release.

Israel has been carrying out strikes on the Gaza Strip since Friday afternoon, and Islamic Jihad has sent rockets into the Jewish state. At 8.30 a.m. local time (5.30 GMT), as rocket warnings continued to sound in Israeli communities adjacent to the blockaded Palestinian territory, Gaza City was paralyzed, streets deserted and shops closed, after an AFP journalist on the spot.

For the first time since this new outbreak of violence that began on Friday, warning sirens sounded in the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv at the end of the afternoon. Until now, they had sounded in localities near Gaza, from where the Islamic Jihad fired rockets in response to strikes by the Israeli army.

The Palestinian group’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, confirmed in a short statement that it had fired “a heavy barrage of rockets” towards the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Sderot. “The battle is only at its beginning,” said Mohammed Al-Hindi, an official of the organization, in a press release.

Egypt, a historic intermediary between Israel and armed groups in Gaza, is working to mediate and could host an Islamic Jihad delegation this Saturday, Egyptian officials told AFP in Gaza. Egyptian diplomacy had previously indicated that it was conducting discussions “relentlessly in order to calm the situation and preserve lives and property”.

‘No negotiations for a ceasefire’, says Israel

An Israeli military spokesman assured him that the army was preparing “for a week-long operation” and “was not currently conducting negotiations for a ceasefire”. Gaza authorities reported 15 dead, including a five-year-old girl, and 125 injured in the Israeli shelling.

The Israeli army estimated that it had killed 15 Islamic Jihad fighters, including a commander-in-chief of the group, in its strikes that began Friday afternoon, targeting in particular weapons manufacturing sites, according to it.

Israel presented the raids as a ‘pre-emptive strike’ against Islamic Jihad, days after the organization’s leader was arrested in the occupied West Bank who raised fears of retaliatory action, an Israeli military spokesman said. , Richard Hecht.

On the Israeli side, two people were injured by shrapnel, according to the emergency services. Most of the rockets were intercepted by the missile shield, the army said, while a building was damaged in Sderot and a fire broke out in the same southern sector, according to local authorities.

Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed Islamist group, has a strong presence in Gaza and the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

This is the worst confrontation between the Jewish state and armed organizations in Gaza since the eleven-day war in May 2021, which left 260 dead on the Palestinian side, including combatants, and 14 dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.

Hamas stays away from clashes

After the first raids, Islamic Jihad accused the Jewish state of having “started a war”.

“The Zionist enemy started this aggression and must expect us to fight relentlessly,” said its secretary general, Ziad al-Nakhala, in an interview with Lebanese television Al-Mayadeen in Tehran. Iranian capital.

“Israel has carried out a precise counter-terrorism operation against an immediate threat,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on television on Friday, accusing the armed group of being “a proxy for Iran who wants destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis”. “We will do whatever it takes to defend our people,” he said.

In 2019, the death of an Islamic Jihad commander in an Israeli operation sparked several days of deadly exchanges of fire between the armed group and Israel. Hamas, which has fought the Jewish state in four wars since taking power in 2007, had kept its distance from the clashes.

Gaza’s only power plant shut down

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, an enclave of 2.3 million inhabitants undermined by poverty and unemployment.

In recent days, Israel had deployed reinforcements near the enclave and on Tuesday ordered the closure of border crossings, forcing thousands of Gazans, holders of work permits in Israel, to stay at home.

The closure also slowed the delivery of diesel, needed to power Gaza’s only power plant. According to a spokesperson, the installation has been shut down since Saturday morning for lack of fuel. “The power station in Gaza has stopped (working) due to a fuel shortage,” Mohammed Thabet said in a statement.

Around 50 people who normally leave the enclave daily for treatment have also been affected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

With AFP


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