(August 5, 2022 / JNS) The Israel Defense forces on Friday launched Operation Breaking Dawn in the Gaza Strip, following days of tensions in the wake of the arrest of the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Judea and Samaria.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement that the goal of the operation was “the elimination of a concrete threat” against the citizens of Israel, as well as the targeting of terrorists and their sponsors.
“Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know: We will find you,” the statement added.
According to reports, an IDF airstrike on Friday killed senior PIJ commander Tayseer Jabari, who is believed to have replaced Baha Abu al-Ata as the head of the terrorist group in northern Gaza after the latter’s assassination by the Israeli military in 2019.
The IDF said that some 15 PIJ terrorists had been killed in strikes targeting anti-tank missile operators and snipers in Gaza.
The military has declared a “special situation” throughout the homefront and warned residents within an 80-kilometer (50 miles) radius of Gaza, including those living in Tel Aviv, that there was a risk of rocket attacks.
The IDF reportedly deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries to central Israel in anticipation of potential barrages.
Egyptian mediators on Tuesday were dispatched to Gaza, with Jerusalem having conveyed a message via the intermediaries to Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave, and PIJ, that it was not interested in an escalation.
However, with parts of the country’s South effectively closed for the last four days, diplomatic efforts to prevent the outbreak of fighting had been “exhausted,” Israeli media reported.
On Monday, Israeli forces launched an operation in Jenin that resulted in the arrest of Bassam al-Sa’adi, who leads PIJ in Judea and Samaria and is suspected of building terror cells in the area.
The Israeli forces came under fire, according to the IDF, and a number of terrorists were hit during the ensuing gun battle. At least one gunman—later claimed by PIJ as one of its members—was killed, according to the statement.
Khaled al-Batsh, head of the politburo of PIJ in Gaza, said on Wednesday: “We have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons and make the occupier pay a heavy price. We will not settle for attacking around Gaza, but we will bomb the center of the so-called State of Israel,” according to The Media Line.