Israel’s military launched an airstrike on the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing 15 people, including a Hamas commander. A 5-year-old child was also among the dead.”Israel has launched a war against our people,” Hamas, the militant group that ruled the Gaza Strip, said in a statement after the attack.
Hamas said its senior commander Taisir al-Jabri was killed in the Israeli attack. Fresh tensions between Israel and Hamas began a few days ago, when Israel raided its occupied West Bank and arrested a senior Hamas member, Basam al-Sadi.
Israel’s attack amid tensions has raised fears of a war between it and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers. An explosion was heard in Gaza City from the Israeli attack, where smoke was billowing from the seventh floor of a tall building. Hamas, angered by the death of its senior commander, could launch rockets towards Israel, which could escalate the attack. There have been four wars and several minor skirmishes in the past 15 years between Israel and Palestine’s Hamas.
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz, visiting settlements near Gaza on Friday, said officials were “taking actions that will remove the threat from the region.””We will work with inner resilience and outward strength to restore regular life in southern Israel,” he said.”We don’t want conflict, but we won’t hesitate to defend our citizens if necessary,” Gantz said.
Tensions escalated recently when Israeli security forces arrested Bassam al-Sadi, a senior Hamas member, in the West Bank city of Jenin late on Monday. A teenage Hamas member was killed in an encounter between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters.
Earlier, some Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip on Friday, demanding the return of the bodies of two Hamas-held captives and two Israeli soldiers. The protesters were led by Haider Goldin’s family. Haider Goldin was killed in the 2014 Gaza War.