Airstrikes by Israel on Palestinian terrorist targets in Gaza continued for the third day on Friday. According to officials, the Palestinian death toll has risen to 30 as foreign negotiators push for a cease-fire.
Following the launch of longer-range rockets towards Israel by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group on Thursday, which resulted in shrapnel ripping through residences and killing one person. The Israeli military said its aeroplanes hit Islamic Jihad rocket launchers. Residents in Gaza reported blasts near the southern city of Rafah. There were no reports of casualties at the time.
Despite the periodic Israel airstrikes, the atmosphere was generally peaceful in Gaza early Friday. Islamic Jihad held its rocket fire overnight, bolstering optimism that Egypt, Qatar, and the United Nations may broker a cease-fire.
This week’s border clashes pitted Israel against Islamic Jihad. Gaza’s second-largest militant group after the territory’s Hamas leadership. Israel claims to have assassinated five key Islamic Jihad figures since Tuesday. Islamic Jihad has replied by launching over 800 missiles against densely populated areas of Israel. During that time, Israel’s military claimed to have struck at least 215 targets in Gaza, including rocket and mortar launch sites and militants preparing to use them.
At least 30 Palestinians Dead
According to the UN humanitarian office, at least 30 Palestinians have been murdered in the Gaza Strip. Including seven children and four women. The Israeli military and the Palestinian Centre for Rights said that at least three children were killed by misfired Palestinian rockets. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, over 90 Palestinians have been injured.
The murders of civilians have already elicited outrage from the Arab world and worry from the United States and Europe. Due to the high civilian death tolls and Israel’s deployment of heavy weapons against the congested enclave in its previous four conflicts with Hamas, Israel has been frequently accused of war crimes. In exchange, Israel claims that Palestinian militant groups exploit people as human shields while fighting in their midst.
Since a catastrophic 11-day war in 2021 that killed over 260 Palestinians, Hamas, the de facto civilian government with a 30,000-strong army in Gaza, has attempted to maintain peace with Israel while striving to keep the blockaded enclave’s deplorable living circumstances from spiralling out of control. The group, which took control of Gaza in 2007, has remained silent during this round of fighting, as it did during a similar outbreak of violence last summer. Israel has limited its airstrikes to Islamic Jihad targets in a show of moderation.
Before Thursday’s bloodshed, both sides appeared to be on the verge of a cease-fire. The relative calm on Friday raised hopes for development.
Early Friday, Hamas leaders told local media that Egypt was stepping up its diplomatic attempts to end the war through “intensive contacts” with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.