Jerusalem, Aug 5 (EFE).- Israel killed the second in command of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in the Gaza Strip during an air strike Friday on a residential building that killed at least seven others and wounded more than 40.
“We just targeted a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group in Gaza. Taysir al-Jabari was responsible for multiple terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians,” Israel’s Defense Forces said on Twitter.
Palestinian medical and security sources in Gaza confirmed the death of al-Jabari, leader of the armed wing of PIJ in the central and northern Gaza Strip and head of the unit responsible for firing rockets at Israel.
The Palestinian Health Ministry added that one of the fatalities was a five-year-old girl.
Other Palestinian sources in Gaza noted that the residential building that was targeted, which is in the center of Gaza City, also houses offices of media and non-governmental organizations.
Al-Jabari’s assassination comes amid an offensive launched on Friday by the Israeli army against the Palestinian group’s targets in the enclave, amid a spike in tensions following Monday’s arrest of another of its leaders in the occupied West Bank.
The army had issued a brief statement to announce the start of an operation against the Islamist group, which this week threatened retaliatory attacks after the arrest, triggering a reinforcement of Israeli troops on the Gaza border and a state of alarm over possible rocket fire.
For several days, Israel has kept the border crossings with the Strip closed, as well as multiple roads in Israeli communities bordering the enclave.
Friday’s attack on Gaza marks a departure from previous offensives, whose triggers usually include hostilities by Palestinian groups in the Strip against Israeli territory.
Following the shelling, which according to Palestinian sources hit multiple targets in several Gaza cities, the army ordered a halt to almost all activities in communities near the border and put multiple protective measures in place in nearby areas.
After the offensive, Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid said: “The Israeli government will not allow the terrorist organizations to set the agenda in the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel. Let anyone who rises to harm Israel know that we will get to him.”
“The security forces will act against the Islamic Jihad terrorists to remove the threat from the citizens of Israel,” he added.
The secretary general of the PIJ movement, Ziad al-Nakhala, threatened to attack the center of Israel including the country’s second-largest city Tel Aviv in response to the Israeli bombing.