Israel Kills 3 Islamic Jihad Commanders in Gaza Strikes

Palestinian health officials say 12 people were killed in total
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2023 12:53 AM CDT
Israel Kills 3 Islamic Jihad Commanders in Targeted Gaza Airstrikes
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of his family's building following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, early Tuesday, May 9, 2023.   (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Israel killed three senior commanders of the militant Islamic Jihad group in targeted airstrikes early Tuesday, the military said. Palestinian health officials said 12 people were killed in all, including the commanders, their wives, several of their children and others nearby, the AP reports. The strikes hit the top floor of an apartment building in Gaza City and a house in the southern city of Rafah. The Palestinian Health ministry said 20 people were injured, and that ambulances were continuing to evacuate people from the targeted areas. Airstrikes continued in the early hours, targeting militant training sites.

In the past, Palestinian militant groups in Gaza have retaliated for such targeted killings. In anticipation of Palestinian rocket attacks in response to the airstrikes, the Israeli military advised residents of communities within 25 miles of Gaza to stay close to designated bomb shelters. The military said the three targeted men 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.

The Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, which is smaller than Gaza's ruling Hamas group, confirmed the three were among the dead. 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 airstrikes came at a time of boiling tensions between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip. It is linked, in part, to increasing violence in the occupied West Bank, where Israel has been conducting near-daily raids for months to detain Palestinians suspected in planning or carrying out attacks on Israelis.

(More Israel stories.)

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