In the early hours of Saturday, Palestinian militants launched rockets from Gaza towards Israel, a direct response to Israeli aircraft striking Islamic Jihad targets in the region. The attacks and counterattacks have marked the fifth consecutive day of conflict, with the unrest spilling over into the West Bank.
The Israeli military released grainy black and white aerial footage, documenting the pre-dawn operations in Gaza. The footage depicted explosions and rising smoke plumes from the bombed sites. In the hours following the airstrikes, the militants from Gaza returned fire, setting off alarms and propelling Israelis in border communities to seek refuge in bomb shelters. There were no immediate reports of casualties within Israel.
Clashes in the West Bank: Casualties and Confrontations
In a separate incident in the northern West Bank, two Palestinians were killed on the outskirts of Nablus during an Israeli raid. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed the deaths, although the Israeli military has not provided a comment. Prior to the raid, clashes had broken out in the area.
According to the AFP report, the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service reported two Palestinians killed during the confrontations with Israeli troops in the Balata refugee camp, with seven more wounded. Gunfire resonated across the camp, as captured by Palestinian media.
The Call for Peace: Egypt’s Mediation Efforts
Amid the escalating violence, Egypt has been endeavoring to broker a truce. The latest bout of violence has claimed at least 33 Palestinian and one Israeli life. Since January, the death toll has risen to over 140 Palestinians and at least 19 Israelis and foreigners. An anonymous Palestinian official characterized the truce talks as “complicated” and “tough,” but verified that Cairo is persevering in its peace efforts.
A War on Terror: The Battle Against Islamic Jihad
Since Tuesday, six top Islamic Jihad commanders have been killed as part of an Israeli campaign to thwart potential attacks planned by the group. Islamic Jihad, the second-largest armed group in Gaza after the ruling Islamist Hamas, retaliated by launching over 1,000 rockets, some reaching deep into Israel. On Thursday, a woman was killed when a rocket struck an apartment in a Tel Aviv suburb.
The Human Cost: Civilian Lives Lost
The densely populated Gaza, blockaded by Israel and Egypt since 2007, has witnessed the deaths of at least four women and six children in this conflict. Israel claims that four Palestinians were killed by misfired Gaza rockets, a claim disputed by Islamic Jihad.
As the fighting continues, the larger political and ideological clash is also in focus. Islamic Jihad rejects coexistence with Israel, advocating for its destruction. In contrast, the top ministers of Israel’s religious nationalist government dismiss any prospect of a state desired by Palestinians in territories seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.