| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Israel, Palestinian militants trade fire over Gaza

On Wednesday, there was an exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza militants, resulting in a resumption of lethal violence, following Israeli airstrikes that claimed the lives of 15 individuals in the Palestinian territory the day before.
Smoke billowed from the densely-populated Palestinian territory after Israel announced it was targeting rocket launching infrastructure held by Islamic Jihad militants.

A Gaza health ministry official told AFP one person was killed, while one other was seriously wounded.

Minutes later, an AFP journalist saw dozens of rockets fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel.

The Israeli military said sirens warning of incoming fire blared in communities close to the border, including the city of Ashkelon.

The latest violence comes a day after Israeli strikes on Gaza killed three top Islamic Jihad militants and 12 others, including four children, according to a health ministry toll.

Israel’s military said Wednesday’s strikes included firing on militants “who were traveling to a rocket launch site in the city of Khan Yunis” in southern Gaza.

Islamic Jihad had vowed Tuesday to retaliate, with Israel warning its residents near the border to stay near bomb shelters.

The senior Islamic Jihad operatives killed were named as Jihad Ghannam, Khalil Al-Bahtini and Tareq Ezzedine.

Although based in Gaza, the latter was a militant leader in the West Bank.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli troops raided the West Bank town of Qabatiya, killing two people who the army accused of firing at soldiers.

The Palestinian health ministry identified the two men as Ahmed Jamal Tawfiq Assaf, 19, and Rani Walid Ahmed Qatanat, 24.

The Israeli military said troops detained one person during the raid, when soldiers were shot at from a vehicle.

“The soldiers responded with live fire toward the two assailants and killed them,” the army said.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967 and its forces regularly operate in Palestinian cities.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, whose Islamist movement rules Gaza, said Tuesday “assassinating the leadership” in Gaza would bring “greater resistance.”

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are considered terrorist organizations by Israel and the United States.

Washington called Tuesday for “all parties to de-escalate the situation.”

While Hamas has fought multiple wars with Israel in recent years, the group stayed on the sidelines of a three-day conflict fought between the country and Islamic Jihad in August.

Following Tuesday’s air strikes, Egypt — a longtime mediator in Gaza — said such actions “inflame the situation in a way that could get out of control.”

The latest violence brings to 126 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.

These figures include combatants as well as civilians, and, on the Israeli side, three members of the country’s Arab minority.

  • Arab News