Israeli Air Attacks Hit Gaza, Escalation Fears after Jenin Raid
Story Code : 1038001
Local sources in Gaza told Al Jazeera that Israeli warplanes had hit Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the center of the territory with at least 13 strikes in the early hours of Friday.
The Al-Zaitoun neighborhood in the south of Gaza city was also hit, as well as an open area east of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.
Witnesses and local media reported that Israeli drones fired two missiles at targets in Gaza before the fighter jets struck.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, and “cautious calm” had returned to Gaza by the morning, said Al Jazeera correspondent Maram Humaid.
The Israeli army said the air attacks on Gaza – one of the most densely populated areas in the world with 2.1 million residents – followed after two rockets were fired towards Israel at about midnight.
Air raid sirens had sounded in southern Israel as the initial two rockets were fired and then again after the Israeli air attacks.
The Israeli army said the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s air defense system and the Zionist regime’s Channel 12 aired footage of Israeli interceptor missiles being launched into the night sky above the city of Ashkelon, about 12km north of Gaza.
No group has claimed responsibility for the reported rocket fire.
However, the Hamas spokesperson, Hazem Qassem, said that armed groups in Gaza “will continue to carry out (their) duty to defend the Palestinian people and their sanctities, and will remain the people’s shield and sword”.
The Israeli air attacks and rocket fire followed Israeli forces killing nine people during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. At least 20 people were also injured in what has been described as one of the deadliest days in the occupied West Bank since Israel ramped up raids at the start of 2021.
A 22-year-old Palestinian man was also shot by Israeli forces in the town of al-Ram, north of Jerusalem.
Four of those injured in the raid were in critical condition and the dead included an elderly woman who was identified as Magda Obaid by the Jenin hospital authorities.
Obaid’s family said that she had been shot after peering out of her window.
Palestinians have described the Jenin raid as a “massacre”.
In Gaza, there were fears that the Israeli air attacks, following on from the Jenin raid, were an indication that a new conflict was going to break out, only five months after the last major Israeli assault on the blockaded territory killed at least 49 people.
People filled the streets across the West Bank on Thursday to show solidarity with Jenin as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning.
The United Arab Emirates, China and France have asked the UN Security Council to meet behind closed doors on Friday over the attacks, diplomats said.
Tor Wennesland, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said on Twitter he was “deeply alarmed” and “saddened” by the violence and that he was engaged with Israeli and Palestinian authorities to “de-escalate tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict”.