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Escalation in Gaza Continues, Another Islamic Jihad Commander Killed

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Escalation in Gaza Continues, Another Islamic Jihad Commander Killed

Gaza on the morning of November 13th. Click to see full-size image

On November 12th, more than 200 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards various targets in southern Israel.

This was in response to a “precision strike” by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that killed Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu Al-Ata at his home in Gaza, and an airstrike in Damascus, targeting another high-ranked member of the group – Akram al-Ajouri, who wasn’t killed, but his son and granddaughter were.

Throughout the day, the IDF also struck several targets in the Gaza Strip, reportedly all belonging to Islamic Jihad, with Hamas remaining out of the fight.

The evening of November 12th, and the very early hours of November 13th were generally peaceful, but rocket launches from both sides continued in the morning.

The final rocket on November 12th was launched around 11 PM local time by Islamic Jihad towards southern Israel, with IDF responding after midnight.

Around 6 AM local time the exchange began once more.

As of 9:30 AM local time, Islamic Jihad has launched upwards of 220 rockets, according to the IDF, this includes all launches in the previous day.

The IDF said that all the airstrikes in the first wave targeted Islamic Jihad underground facilities used for storage and manufacturing of weapons and training camps. These sites were critical facilities for the group which invested large sums of money to construct.

Also around 9:00 AM, sources in the Gaza Strip reported that the IDF attacked the home of the family of one of the leaders of Al-Quds Brigades (Islamic Jihad’s military wing) in Rafah, in the south of the sector. Before striking, the IDF warned of the attack, allowing everyone in the house to leave the building. As a result of an air strike, the house was destroyed.

An hour earlier, Al-Quds Brigades reported that, as a result of an IDF strike against a group of fighters armed with rocket launchers east of Dir al-Balah, in the central part of the Gaza Strip, field commander Khalid Muhawad was killed. Judging by the published data, Khalid Muawad commanded the Islamic Jihad missile units in central Gaza.

Palestinian Wafa news agency said five Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in the retaliatory airstikes.

On November 12th, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced a special state of emergency for 48 hours in areas within an 80-kilometer range surrounding Gaza.

Universities in the Gaza Strip have suspended classes until further notice, Maan News Agency reported. The Ministry of Education also announced the suspension of classes in schools run by the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees across the enclave.

It should be noted that the state of emergency and the escalation play specifically in the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is urgently trying to cling to power, under threat of criminal investigations against him and an impending indictment.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed his support of the IDF operation against Islamic Jihad and said that this wasn’t the time for “political squabbles”.

“We stand behind the security forces, who have been working for the success of this morning’s operations for a long time,” said Rivlin said. “I know that they, and the Israeli government that approved the operation, have Israel’s security, and only that, in their minds.

“This is no time for political squabbles, and those who do so bring no credit to themselves. It is the time to stop such statements immediately. Israeli citizens – please listen to the life-saving instructions of the IDF Home Front Command and take good care of yourselves.”

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