Gaza death toll rises as Israel warns campaign against Islamic Jihad could last a week

The death toll from the escalating violence in Gaza on Sunday rose to 24, including six children, as Israel continued to bombard Palestinian militants, who responded with rocket fire.
Six children have been among the dead since the start of the “Israeli aggression” on Friday, in addition to 204 injured, according to updated health officials in Hamas-ruled territory.
But Israel said it had “irrefutable” evidence that a stray rocket from Islamic Jihad fighters was responsible for the deaths of several children in Jabalia, northern Gaza, on Saturday.
It was not immediately clear how many children died in the Jabalia incident. An AFP photographer saw six corpses at the district hospital, including three minors.

The Israeli military has warned that its air and artillery campaign against Islamic Jihad could last a week, but Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Cairo was in “round the clock” talks with both sides to reduce the violence.

Israel said it needed to launch a “preemptive” operation against Islamic Jihad as the group planned an imminent attack after days of tension on the Gaza border.
Meanwhile, civilians took refuge in bomb shelters on the Israeli side, and AFP journalists heard sirens warning of incoming fire in the Tel Aviv area on Saturday evening.
In Rafah, on Gaza’s border with Egypt, women and children were trapped under rubble after an Israeli strike, the sector’s civil defense unit said.

Rescuers were digging up the site where an Israeli strike on Saturday reportedly hit high-ranking Islamic Jihad commander Khaled Mansour.

    Fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, launch rockets in eastern Gaza City on August 6, 2022.

The firefight has disrupted more than a year of relative calm around Gaza. Source: A MONKEY / Mohammed Saber

There has been no concrete confirmation of Mansour’s death, but Israeli Army Operations Chief Oded Basiok said in a statement that “all of the top leadership of the military wing of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza has been neutralized.”

Everyday life in the strip came to a standstill while an electricity distributor said the only power plant was shut down due to fuel shortages after Israel closed its border crossings.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the next few hours would be “decisive and difficult”, warning there was a risk of vital services being suspended for 72 hours due to a power outage.

“We’re All Alone”

Dunia Ismail, a Gaza City resident, said Palestinians are accustomed to preparing a “survival bag” with items such as money and medicine.

“This latest escalation evokes images of fear, anxiety and feeling like we’re all alone,” she told AFP.

People inspect the rubble of a residential building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on August 6, 2022 in Gaza City, Gaza.

Israel says Friday’s airstrikes in Gaza were in response to an “imminent threat” from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Source: Getty / Getty Images / Getty Images

On the Israeli side of the border, the Magen David Adom emergency service said two people were hospitalized with shrapnel wounds and another 13 were lightly injured while fleeing for safety.

In Kibbutz Nahal Oz, an Israeli community near the Gaza border, resident Nadav Peretz said he had been “in or near a bomb shelter” since Friday.

“We recognize that there is a disinterested civilian population on the other side, and on both sides, children deserve to enjoy their summer holidays,” said the 40-year-old.

A five-year-old girl was reported among the dead.

Islamic Jihad is affiliated with Hamas but often operates independently. Both are blacklisted as terrorist organizations by much of the West.
Hamas has fought four wars with Israel since taking control of Gaza in 2007, including a conflict last May.
The outbreak with Islamic Jihad occurred in 2019 after the Israeli assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata, Jabari’s predecessor. Hamas was not involved in this conflict.
Hamas’ actions now could prove decisive as the group faces pressure from some to restore calm and improve the economic situation in Gaza.
The head of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lynn Hastings, called on the warring parties to allow the delivery of “fuel, food and medicine” to Gaza amid the worsening crisis.

On Friday, the Gaza Health Ministry said a “five-year-old girl” was among those killed in Israeli shelling.

Palestinians attend the funeral of five-year-old Alaa Kaddum.

Palestinians attend the funeral of five-year-old Alaa Kaddum. Credits: SOPA Images/Sipa USA

The girl, Alaa Caddum, had a pink bow in her hair and a wound on her forehead, as her body was carried by her father at the funeral.

The strikes in Gaza follow the arrest in the occupied West Bank of two senior Islamic Jihad members, including Bassem al-Saadi, whom Israel accuses of masterminding the recent attacks.
On Saturday, Israel expanded its operation against Islamic Jihad by announcing the arrest of 19 people in the West Bank who it said were members of the group.

Since mid-March, Israel has carried out a wave of often-deadly raids in the West Bank in retaliation for deadly attacks on Israelis.