On August 5, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) kicked off a surprise military operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip.
In a brief statement, the IDF said that the operation, codenamed “Breaking Dawn,” comes as a response to recent threats by the PIJ. The Palestinian faction made many threats to Israel in the recent weeks following a series of raids by Israeli forces that targeted its members and leaders in the West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp.
Operation Breaking Dawn began with a series of strikes that hit a number of civilian and military targets, including an apartment in the Palestine residential tower in the city center of Gaza.
The strikes claimed the life of Tayseer Jabari, the commander of PIJ’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, in Gaza’s northern sector. A spokesman of the IDF claimed that the head of the al-Quds Brigades’ anti-tank units was also killed in the strikes along with 10-20 other members of the factions. However, this is yet to be confirmed by the PIJ.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that a total of eight people, including a five-year-old girl, were killed and at least 44 others were wounded in the Israeli strikes.
In his first response to the IDF operation, PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah vowed to attack the Israeli capital, Tel Aviv, with rockets.
“There are no red lines for this battle, and I declare before the Palestinian people that Tel Aviv will be under the strikes of the resistance’s rockets,” the Palestinian leader said in a phone call from Iran with the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV.
The Hamas Movement, the de-facto ruler of Gaza, said that Israel will pay the price for its attack on PIJ, warning that all “resistance” factions will fight side by side to defend the Palestinian enclave and its people.
The IDF have been preparing for Operation Breaking Dawn for around a week. In the last few days, large forces were deployed around Gaza. Security measures at nearby Israeli settlements were also tightened.
Operation Breaking Dawn is apparently meant to deter all of Gaza factions, not just the PIJ. The Palestinian response to the operation will likely spark a large-scale military confrontation with the IDF, similar to what happened summer of last year.