Israel killed three senior commanders of the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad terrorist group in targeted airstrikes early Tuesday.
AP reports the targeted air strikes hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern town of Rafah.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said 20 people were wounded and ambulances were continuing to evacuate people from the targeted areas.
Israel’s Home Front command ordered the closure of schools, beaches and highways in cities and towns in southern Israel, and limited public gatherings ahead of anticipated retaliatory strikes.
The military said the three men targeted in the counter-terror operation had been responsible for recent rocket fire toward Israel.
It identified them as Khalil Bahtini, the Islamic Jihad commander for northern Gaza Strip; Tareq Izzeldeen, the group’s intermediary between its Gaza and West Bank members; and Jehad Ghanam, the secretary of the Islamic Jihad’s military council.
Their funerals were planned for later in the day.
The bombings came days after Gazan terrorists led by Islamic Jihad fired 104 rockets toward Israel in response to the death of an alleged senior member of the group who had been on hunger strike in Israeli prison, the Times of Israel reports.
Several rockets struck Sderot during the May 2 clash, injuring three workers and damaging homes and cars.
Israel’s response Tuesday launches a new series of reprisals in Gaza as the Israel Defense Forces made clear:
Terrorism is a threat to civilians everywhere.
Islamic Jihad and its leaders have been threatening the security of Israelis for too long.
The IDF has launched a targeted campaign against Islamic Jihad in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/tCUXgL4Als
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 9, 2023
Islamic Jihad, which is smaller than Gaza’s ruling Hamas group, confirmed the three were among the dead. The Palestinian Health Ministry said that along with the three commanders, their wives, several of their children and others nearby were also killed — 13 in all.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned that Israel will “pay the price” for the killings. “Assassinating the leaders with a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but rather more resistance,” Haniyeh said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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