Twelve people have been killed and 20 others injured in Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip, according to the Ministry of Health. The attacks were aimed at members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, but civilians, including the families of the targets, were also hit. Witnesses reported explosions in residential apartments in different parts of Gaza, with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement confirming that three of its leaders were among the dead. Israel claimed the operation, dubbed “Operation Shield and Arrow”, targeted three Palestinian Islamic Jihad members who it said were responsible for recent rocket attacks on Israel.
The Gaza Strip was hit by Israeli missiles last week in response to rockets launched towards Israel. The rocket attack was believed to have been caused by the death of Palestinian hunger striker, Khader Adnan, who had refused food for 87 days while protesting his detention without charge in an Israeli prison. During the bombardment, Hashel Mubarak al-Swerki was killed and five others were injured as various areas of Gaza sustained damage.
According to Israeli military instructions, residents of communities within 40 kilometers of Gaza should stay close to bomb shelters following Tuesday’s air raids. Until further notice, two crossings with Gaza have also been closed to people and goods.
The latest escalation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians comes amid simmering tensions in the region. In recent years, Israel has tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip, leading to a worsening humanitarian situation. Palestinians have staged protests against the blockade, as well as against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the annexation of East Jerusalem.
The international community has called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, with the United Nations urging all parties to “exercise maximum restraint”. The UN has also called for an end to the blockade of Gaza, stating that it is a violation of international law and has caused “unprecedented humanitarian and economic devastation”. The UN has further called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security.