12 Palestinians martyred in Israeli air strikes: health officials

Smoke and flames rise above buildings after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on May 3, 2023. —AFP/file 
  • Ministry says women and children were among the dead.
  • Witnesses report the sight of a blazing building.
  • Israeli army claims operation targetted 3 leaders of Islamic Jihad.

GAZA CITY, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Israel launched pre-dawn air strikes on Tuesday against the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, its military announced, with the health ministry of the Hamas-controlled territory saying 12 people were killed.

The ministry said that women and children were among the dead, but did not give further details as to the identity of the victims.

Witnesses in Gaza reported the sight of a blazing building and the swift evacuation of casualties.

The Israeli army claimed that the operation targetted three leaders of Islamic Jihad, whom they classify as members of a terrorist organisation.

The group confirmed three senior officials were killed, naming them in a statement as Jihad Ghannam, secretary of the Al-Quds Brigades military council, and Khalil al-Bahtini, also of the council and commander of the military wing in northern Gaza.

The third, Tareq Ezzedine, was described by Islamic Jihad as “one of the heads of military action” in the occupied West Bank who operated from Gaza.

In Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip, the lifeless body of a man identified as Ghannam was seen by AFP photographer. 

“We mourn the leaders and their wives and a number of their children who were killed in a cowardly Zionist crime,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement, vowing “the blood of martyrs will increase (the) resolve” of the movement.

The air strikes, which began a little after 2am, were still going nearly two hours later, according to AFP journalists, with a new explosion heard in the east.

The operation comes less than a week after Islamic Jihad announced a truce around Gaza — brokered with help from Egypt — following a fresh flare-up in violence.

Israel and Gaza fighters traded cross-border fire following the death in Israeli detention of Khader Adnan, who had been on hunger strike for 87 days following his arrest over ties to Islamic Jihad.

On Tuesday, the Islamic Jihad said Israel had “scorned all the initiatives of mediators” and vowed it would “avenge the leaders” killed in the latest air strikes.

Roles of Israeli army 

In separate statements detailing each of the Islamic Jihad figures killed, the Israeli army affirmed it would “continue to operate for the security of the civilians in the state of Israel”.

The military presented Ghannan as “one of the most senior members of the organisation” who “was entrusted with coordinating weapons and money transfers between the Hamas terrorist organisation” and his movement.

Bahtini was “responsible for the rocket fire toward Israel in the past month”, Israel said.

Ezzedine was recently “planning and direction (sic) multiple attacks against Israeli” civilians in the West Bank, where he was from and which has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

He was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Israel for his involvement in suicide attacks in the 2000s, before being freed in a 2011 prisoner exchange and transferred to Gaza, according to the army.

Israel and Gaza have fought multiple wars since Hamas took control of the Palestinian enclave in 2007.

A three-day conflict last August in Gaza caused 49 Palestinian fatalities and none on the Israeli side.

Tuesday’s casualties bring to 120 the number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so far this year.

Nineteen Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP count based on official sources from the two sides.

— Additional input from AFP

Source link

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles