Israel kills sixth Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza as rockets target Jerusalem

A sixth senior Islamic Jihad operative who was on Israel’s most-wanted list for 26 years has been killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, as Palestinian death toll jumps over 30 and rockets target Jerusalem.

A spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad confirmed to Agence France-Presse that senior commander Iyad al-Hassani was killed Friday in an Israeli airstrike. Hassani was a top official in the Islamic Jihad’s military council, and had apparently replaced head of Islamic Jihad in northern Gaza Khalil Bahtini, who was killed in an Israeli strike on Tuesday morning.

Violence has resumed in the region after 13 hours of quiet Thursday night and as talks for a cease-fire are frozen. Israel renewed its strikes on Gaza just before noon local time on Friday, after the Islamic Jihad launched salvos of rockets toward southern Israeli communities and the Jerusalem area.

According to the Israeli army, as of 5 p.m. Friday, since the beginning of the fighting on Tuesday morning, 973 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel and 761 of them crossed the Gaza border. Israel carried out 254 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip during that period. One Israeli has been killed and 45 have been injured since Tuesday. 

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported on Friday that 33 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed and another 111 injured since hostilities began on Tuesday. 

At least two rockets were fired on Friday toward Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad released a statement saying the rocket fire on Jerusalem was meant as “an important message” to Israel. 

“What happens in Gaza is not separate from what happens in Jerusalem,” the group said in the statement. 

Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanoua echoed this sentiment in a statement on Friday, saying “our strikes are firm and protracted throughout all of the entity to make (Israel) pay for its crimes.” Anti-Israel groups regularly refer to the country as “the entity.”

Meanwhile, violence occurred in the West Bank on Friday amid the Gaza fighting. The Palestinian Authority’s WAFA news agency reported clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Beit Ummar north of Hebron and Azzun near the Israeli border. 

Since the violence broke out, Cairo had been working to negotiate a cease-fire. Qatari and UN representatives have also been involved. Despite reports on Thursday that a cease-fire agreement was about to be reached, progress has halted. According to KAN, when the Islamic Jihad resumed its rocket fire Friday morning, Israel informed Egypt it was suspending negotiations.

Know more: Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke on the phone with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Friday. The Iranian diplomat praised Gaza’s “resistance” during the call, according to the Hamas-affiliated Safa news agency. 

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