At least 13 Palestinians, including four children, were killed and dozens injured in the latest round of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The airstrikes, which started late on Monday night, targeted a number of residential and civilian areas in the blockaded Gaza strip.
Israeli military sources claimed that only military sites and compounds belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other resistance groups were targeted. However, as per reports, homes and residential buildings in Rafah, Khan Younis, and Gaza city were targeted in the bombing campaign and suffered extensive damage.
The airstrikes were carried out by a large contingent of 40 Israeli air force jets and drones and started at 2 am in the night, continuing for the next 2-3 hours.
Israel said that it was specifically targeting three top Islamic Jihad leaders. Palestinian sources later disclosed that the three leaders—Jihad al-Ghannam, Khalil al-Bahtini, and Tariq Izz al-Deen—were assassinated in the airstrikes, along with their wives and children.
In response to the airstrikes, PIJ vowed “revenge” and said that the killings will not go “unpunished.” Hamas also condemned the airstrikes and deaths and said that Israel bears “responsibility for the repercussions of this escalation.” Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that “assassinating the leadership in a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but instead greater resistance.”
Tuesday’s airstrikes come just days after an earlier round of Israeli bombing in Gaza in the aftermath of the death of Palestinian administrative detainee Khader Adnan, who had been on hunger strike for close to 90 days. Following his death in prison, PIJ had reportedly fired a number of rockets towards Israel, accusing Israel of deliberate medical negligence that led to Adnan’s death. A ceasefire was reached between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza in the days after Adnan’s death. Tuesday’s airstrikes were in violation of the ceasefire and were carried out without any provocation.