Israel has said it has invaded Gaza and declared a “special situation” on the domestic front, after days of tension in the occupied West Bank following the arrest of a senior Palestinian terrorist.
An explosion could be heard in Gaza City, where smoke emanated from the seventh floor of a tall building. It was not clear who was targeted in the attack.
Israel closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it prepared for revenge following the arrest of a senior member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group in the occupied West Bank on Monday.
It was not immediately clear what Israel was aiming for or how far the situation would escalate. Israel and the terrorist group Hamas have fought four wars and several minor skirmishes in the 15 years since the latter seized power from rival Palestinian forces.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, visiting communities near Gaza on Friday, said officials were “taking actions that will remove the threat from the region”, without elaborating.
“We will work with internal resilience and outward strength to restore regular life in the south of Israel,” he said, adding that “we do not seek conflict, yet we will not hesitate to protect our citizens if be necessary.”
The latest escalation began when Israeli forces arrested a senior member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group in the West Bank city of Jenin late Monday. A teenage group member was killed in a gunfight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian extremists.
Ahmed Mudalal, an official of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, said the group had sought Israel, through Egyptian mediators, the release of detained militants and another prisoner, halting West Bank raids and a blockade of Gaza. Includes deletion. He said that no response has been received so far.
Earlier on Friday, a few hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip, demanding the return of a captive Israeli civilian and the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.
The protesters were led by the family of Haider Goldin, who was killed along with Oron Shawl in the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas is still holding their remains as well as two Israeli civilians who wandered into Gaza and are believed to be terminally ill, trying to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. hopefully.
They demanded the return of the soldiers’ remains as well as the return of Avram Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent in his late 20s or early 30s. Mengistu’s family took part in the protests.
Israel and Egypt have placed a tight blockade on the region ever since Hamas took over Gaza. Israel says it needs to be shut down to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to the collective punishment of two million Palestinian residents of Gaza.
Israel says no major steps can be taken to lift the blockade until the remains of soldiers and captive civilians are released. Israel and Hamas have held several rounds of talks, mediated by Egypt, on a possible swap.