September 25, 2022

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said an Israeli airstrike late Saturday killed its top commander for the southern Gaza Strip, a day after Israel killed the commander of its Organization Iran in northern Gaza in an airstrike. sparked the worst cross-border conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants since the end of an 11-day war in 2021.

Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quda Brigades confirmed on Sunday that the airstrike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah killed Khaled Mansour, the commander, and two of his colleagues. It said five other civilians, including a child and three women, were also killed in the airstrike that flattened several houses in Rafah.

Late Saturday, Gaza’s health ministry said 24 people had been killed so far in the coastal strip, including six children. The number likely does not include all those killed in the Rafah airstrike because Civil Defense correspondents were still searching for bodies and survivors under the rubble.

So far, the two high-ranking Islamic Jihad commanders and several other fighters are among the dead. Israel estimates its airstrikes have killed about 15 militants.

Islamic Jihad fighters continued to fire rockets into Israel and the Israeli military continued airstrikes in Gaza, although the exchange had eased in the early hours of Sunday.

The fighting began with Israel killing a senior Islamic Jihad commander in a wave of raids on Friday that Israel said were aimed at preventing an imminent attack.

Hamas, the largest militant group that rules Gaza, appeared to remain on the sidelines of the conflict for now, keeping its response limited. Israel and Hamas fought a war just a year ago, one of four major conflicts and several smaller battles over the past 15 years that have resulted in a staggering toll to the 2 million Palestinian residents of the impoverished area.

Whether Hamas will continue to stay out of the fray depends in part on how much punishment Israel inflicts on Gaza as the rocket fire continues.

Israel’s military said an errant rocket fired by Palestinian militants killed civilians, including children, late Saturday in the northern Gaza town of Jambaliya. The military said it investigated the incident and concluded “without doubt” that it was caused by mistaken fire by Islamic Jihad. There was no official Palestinian comment on the incident.

A Palestinian doctor who was not authorized to brief the media and spoke on condition of anonymity said the explosion killed at least six people, including three children.

Israeli airstrikes on Saturday killed a 75-year-old woman and injured six others as they prepared to go to a wedding. Airstrikes have also destroyed many homes in the Gaza Strip, some of which belong to members of Islamic Jihad.

Gaza’s only power plant shut down at noon on Saturday due to a lack of fuel. Israel has kept crossing points to Gaza closed since Tuesday. With the new disruption, Gazans can use only four hours of electricity a day, increasing their reliance on private generators and deepening the region’s chronic electricity crisis amid the height of the summer heat.

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