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Israeli air strikes kill three senior Islamic Jihad commanders

Israel conducted an air strike targeting three leaders of Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed group that is on terrorism watchlists in the West and which commands the second-biggest armed network in Gaza. The air strikes killed three senior Islamic Jihad commanders and at least nine civilians.

A Gaza health official said at least 12 people had been killed and 20 wounded in the strikes that hit the densely populated strip in which 2.3 million Palestinians live.

Hamas threatens retaliation after Israel kills three senior Islamic Jihad figures, ten civilians | Live updates

— (@haaretzcom) May 9, 2023

Islamic Jihad identified the commanders killed as Jihad Ghannam, Khalil Al-Bahtini, and Tareq Izzeldeen.

The operation

The military said 40 jets took part in what it called “precise” strikes.
“It was a convergence of intelligence, timing and weather,” a military spokesperson said.

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Ten weapons and infrastructure manufacturing sites, including rocket production workshops and a site for making concrete used for tunnels, as well as military compounds belonging to the group were also hit, the spokesperson said.

Israeli military spokesperson Brigadier-General Daniel Hagari said objectives in Gaza had been achieved. A limited call-up of military reservists had also been approved.

Civilian casualties

An Israeli military spokesman said the army was looking into reports of civilian deaths but had no immediate comment.

“We’re aware of some collateral and we’ll learn more as the day goes ahead,” he told a briefing with reporters.

Threats of retaliation

Islamic Jihad spokesperson Tareq Selmi said Israel’s “crime will not pass unpunished”

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The bombardment will be met by bombardment and the attack will be met by an attack,” he said.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who has been splitting his time between Turkey and Qatar, said in a statement: “Assassination of leaders will not bring the occupation security but more resistance.”

The bigger picture

Hours after the Gaza operation, military forces raided the West Bank city of Nablus, one of the focal points of months of confrontation between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters.

Any major escalation could hinge on whether the enclave’s ruling Hamas militants join in. Such participation would make Hamas leader targets for assassination, Israeli security cabinet minister Israel Katz told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM.

More than 100 Palestinians and at least 19 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in the strife since January.

The Palestinian foreign ministry strongly condemned Israel’s attack and said a negotiated political solution was the only way to achieve security and stability. However, political powers in control of Palestine, like Hamas, refuse coexistence with Israel and preach its destruction.

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