Islamic Jihad said in a statement that one of its top leaders, Taysir al-Jabari, was killed in an Israeli strike. He was the commander of the Quds Brigade, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the group said, and a member of its military council.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said at least nine people were killed, including a five-year-old girl, and another 55 were injured.
A CNN producer in Gaza saw medics carrying two bodies out of a building called the Palestinian Tower that had been hit by one of the attacks.
The Israeli army said in a statement that the military operation, called Operation Dawn, was directed against Islamic Jihad, the smaller of the two main militant groups in Gaza. A “special situation” has been declared in areas around Gaza, pending possible rocket fire or other retaliatory attacks, the Israeli army said.
Islamic Jihad promised to respond. “All options are open, with all the means that the Palestinian resistance has, whether in Gaza or beyond,” spokesman Daoud Shehab told Al Jazeera. “The battlefield is open… The resistance will respond with all their might. We won’t say how, but it’s inevitable.”
Hamas, the paramilitary group that controls the Gaza Strip, condemned Israel’s actions. “The Israeli enemy who escalated against Gaza and committed a new crime must pay the price and be fully responsible for this,” spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.
The strikes came after Israeli forces captured high-ranking Islamic Jihad commander Bassam al-Saadi during a Monday night raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
During the operation, a 17-year-old Palestinian associated with Islamic Jihad was shot and killed in a shootout with Israeli soldiers during the operation, according to the Israeli military. The Palestinian Health Ministry said he was shot in the head by the Israeli military.
Israel said Saadi was one of two wanted terrorist suspects caught in the raid. The Quds Force, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said it was mobilizing its forces in the Palestinian territories in response.
There have been repeated Israeli operations in and around Jenin in recent months after Palestinian militants from the region carried out several fatal attacks inside Israel. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 30 Palestinians have been killed in raids since the beginning of the year.
Development of the story, to be continued…