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Israel fired off a slew of airstrikes Friday in Gaza, killing at least eight and injuring at least 40 amid escalating tensions in the region, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

A 5-year-old girl and Gaza Commander Taiseer al Jabari were among those killed in the strikes that come on the heels of Israeli authorities arresting Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Bassam al Saadi earlier in the week, per Palestinian officials.

Militants in Gaza had threatened retaliation in response to the arrest.

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"The [Israel Defense Forces] recently attacked Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip. This is an operation aimed at removing a concrete threat to the citizens of the State of Israel and surrounding Gaza and harming terrorists and their couriers," Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted, per a translation.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a group in Gaza that is smaller than Hamas but harbors similar motivations. An official from Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed the group had issued demands to Israel via Egyptian mediators for the release of Saadi and other prisoners, as well as an end to the blockade of Gaza and raids in the West Bank, the Associated Press reported.

Smoke pours out of a tall building after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday, killing several people. AP


The airstrikes in Gaza, dubbed "Breaking Dawn," were aimed at targeting the group's operations, according to Israeli officials. Israel claimed the group had been preparing attacks.

"Following the direct threats posed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the IDF is currently striking in the Gaza Strip. A special situation has been declared on the Israeli home front," the IDF tweeted early Friday. "A number of Islamic Jihad operatives were neutralized during the strikes," the IDF later added.

The IDF continues to strike terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, including 6 Islamic Jihad military posts.

A number of Islamic Jihad operatives were neutralized during the strikes.

LTG Aviv Kohavi has instructed the IDF to enter emergency mode, opening the High Command Post.

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 5, 2022


In addition to the strikes, Israel closed schools and imposed limits on activities within about 50 miles of its border with Gaza, per IDF. Earlier in the week, Israel had bolstered its security presence near Gaza in anticipation of potential retaliation for the arrest of Saadi.

"The Israeli government will not allow the terrorist organizations to set the agenda in the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel. Let anyone who rises to harm Israel know that we will get to him. The security forces will act against the Islamic Jihad terrorists to remove the threat from the citizens of Israel," Lapid added.

Earlier Friday, hundreds of Israelis gathered near the Gaza Strip, demanding the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers and a captive detained by Hamas in another show of heightened tensions between Israelis and the Palestinians.

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Israel and Hamas most recently went to war in May 2021. They have also traded blows on several occasions this year during multiple flare-ups in tension. Israel has maintained it will not consider lifting its blockade until its soldiers' remains and captives are returned. The country has reportedly been engaged in talks with Hamas through Egyptian mediators about a swap.

Israel News Palestine Gaza Palestinians

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