Israel launches air strikes on Gaza after rocket attacks amid escalating violence


Israel launched air strikes on suspected weapons manufacturing and storage sites in Gaza on Thursday after rocket fire from the coastal enclave, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.

The IDF said in a statement that “fighter jets have targeted a weapons manufacturing facility” in the central Gaza Strip belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza.

“In parallel, a military compound of the terrorist organization Hamas in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, which was also used as a warehouse of naval weapons, was hit,” the statement said.

Earlier Thursday, the IDF said five rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli territory, including the cities of Ashkelon and Sderot, were intercepted and another rocket landed in open areas.

Air strikes are delivered later death of at least 11 Palestinians in Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, during an Israeli military raid that also wounded at least 500 people, Palestinian officials said on Thursday. Earlier, both groups said that one of those killed in the Nablus raid was a Hamas member, and two were Islamic Jihad commanders.

“Our brigades treated 488 wounded during the invasion of the occupying forces in Nablus, including 103 wounded from live bullets taken to hospitals in Nablus,” the Palestinian Red Crescent said. Other injuries included tear gas poisoning and shrapnel wounds. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed these figures.

The Nablus raid lasted about four hours and, unusually, took place in broad daylight, as the IDF said it had intelligence on the whereabouts of the suspects. The IDF accused them of being responsible for the death of an Israeli soldier and of creating an imminent threat.

Columns of smoke rise as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel at dawn on Thursday.
A Palestinian pictured Thursday stands in a house destroyed in an Israeli military raid in Nablus.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Thursday that Israel would “settle scores with those who attack Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers,” praising an Israeli military raid the day before in Nablus.

Netanyahu said the raid targeted “three terrorists” who “shot Staff Sgt. Ido Baruch last October and were about to carry out further attacks on us.”

“I would like to thank ISA intelligence and the IDF for the accurate intelligence” that led to the raid, the Israeli prime minister said, referring to the Israel Security Agency, the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces. He also thanked “the soldiers who acted heroically and confidently under fire.”

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said late Wednesday that he was “appalled at the loss of civilian lives” in the raid.

“I am deeply concerned about the ongoing cycle of violence,” Thor Vennesland said in a statement. “I urge all parties to refrain from steps that could further aggravate an already explosive situation.”

A Palestinian collides with an Israeli military vehicle during a raid on the West Bank city of Nablus on February 22, 2023.

The occupied West Bank was rocked by a series of deadly Israeli military raids last year as tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories remain sky-high in a region torn by bloodshed.

According to CNN reports, an Israeli raid in the city of Jenin in January was the deadliest day for Palestinians in the West Bank in more than a year, with at least 10 Palestinians killed that day and one later dying from his wounds. A day later, at least seven civilians were killed in a shooting near a synagogue in Jerusalem, which Israel called one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent years.

This comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet that has been called the most far-right and religious in the country’s history.

Netanyahu had previously told CNN’s Jake Tupper that people could “obsess” over peace talks with the Palestinians, saying he took a different approach.

As relations between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants heat up, CNN’s Hadas Gold said Wednesday’s scenes reflect scenes “not seen since the second intifada” or uprising.

“Even over the last year and a half or so, which has been very brutal and deadly, these numbers are among the highest I have seen in my entire time here,” she added.

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