Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has threatened further military action against the Gaza Strip following airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave earlier on Friday.
The airstrikes, declared as the Breaking Dawn operation, were launched against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an Islamist organization active in Gaza, to “eliminate” what the Israeli military called “the threat to the citizens of Israel”, Xinhua news agency reported.
At least eight people, including Taysir al-Jabari, a commander of the armed wing of Jihad, were killed and 44 others injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the PIJ.
“The government of Israel will not allow terrorist organizations to set the tone … and threaten the citizens of Israel,” said a joint statement from Lapid and Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz after the airstrikes.
The heightened tension came after Israeli forces arrested a senior official of the PIJ in the West Bank city of Jenin on Monday. The PIJ then vowed to take revenge, prompting the Israeli military to raise its alert along the southern border with Gaza.
Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesman, said in a video briefing that the operation was “a pre-emptive attack … and we have not finished yet”.
Immediately after the airstrikes, the Israeli military declared “special situation” on the home front, calling on citizens in areas near the Gaza Strip not to stay away from bomb shelters, in case of retaliatory rocket firing.
The Israeli military warned people within 80 km from the Gazan border to get prepared, meaning central Israel could also be the target of firing from Gaza. It also said reserve forces would be mobilised to the border with Gaza in the coming hours.