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Israel preparing for weeklong Gaza operation

August 6, 2022

Israel has conducted airstrikes targeting the Islamic Jihad group, with the Palestinian militants firing a barrage of rockets at Israeli cities in response. Meanwhile, Gaza's only power plant is running out of fuel.

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrkes in southern Gaza
Israel has referred to the airstrikes on Gaza as "Operation Breaking Dawn"Image: Ismael Mohamad/UPI/IMAGO

Israel's army said it was carrying out a "preemptive" large-scale operation against militants in Gaza amid the worst escalation in violence since last year.

A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said on Saturday that the IDF is "preparing for the operation to last a week." The spokesperson added that the Israeli military is "not currently holding cease-fire negotiations."

The IDF said the target of its operation is Islamic Jihad — an Iran-backed group committed to armed resistance against Israel. The group is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by several Western countries. 

Israel, Gaza militants trade fire

Israel launched airstrikes on Gaza on Friday as part of a crackdown on Islamic Jihad. Both sides confirmed that the strikes killed a senior member, Taysir al-Jabari.

The strikes have killed at least 15 people, including a 5-year-old girl, and wounded another 110, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. 

Israel said Islamic Jihad fired 160 rockets in its direction in response. The Magen David Adom emergency service said two people suffered minor shrapnel wounds.

The rockets targeted cities near Tel Aviv and border towns such as Sderot. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system

Airstrikes pound Gaza, sirens sound in Israel

Sources told the AFP news agency that Islamic Jihad is also not seeking a cease-fire for now. An Egyptian security source told the German news agency dpa that Cairo has proposed a truce to the two parties.   

How has the international community reacted?

The European Union and other members of the international community have called for de-escalation. 

"The EU calls for maximum restraint on all sides in order to avoid a further escalation and further casualties," a spokesperson for EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement.

"While Israel has the right to protect its civilian population, everything must be done to prevent a broader conflict, which would, first and foremost, affect the civilian populations on both sides and result in further casualties and more suffering."

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said London "stands by Israel and its right to defend itself" and called "for a swift end to the violence."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperspon Maria Zakharova called "on all the parties involved to show maximum restraint." 

The US, a key ally of Israel's, along with the UN, also urged a calming of tensions. 

Iran, a key backer of Islamic Jihad, has criticized Israel's "brutal attack" on Gaza.

Israel, Gaza militants exchange fire: DW's Tania Krämer reports

Hamas, the Islamist ruling authority of the Gaza Strip, has so far been on the sidelines of the conflict. Western countries consider Hamas a terrorist organization. 

In May 2021, an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza ended in a cease-fire brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the UN. 

Gaza crippled by electricity shortage

Also on Saturday, Gaza's only power plant shut down after it ran out of fuel.

Israel had imposed a new blockade on the strip since Tuesday. The Israeli military braced for reprisals from militant groups after several Palestinian Islamic Jihad members were arrested in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

A spokesperson for the Gaza power company expected the electricity supply to plummet to four hours per day. Outages are common in Gaza, which is home to 2.3 million Palestinians.   

Palestinian health authorities say medical services in Gaza will be suspended within the next few days because of the lack of power.  

zc, wd/fb (AFP, AP, dpa)