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A new round of escalations hit the Gaza Strip on August 5 when the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an operation, codenamed “Breaking Dawn,” against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
The operation was an Israeli response to recent threats by the PIJ, who have been very active both publically and militarily in the West Bank. The faction made several threats to Israel in the last few weeks following a series of raids made by Israeli forces that targeted its members and leaders in the Jenin refugee camp.
Operation Breaking Dawn began with a series of strikes on PIJ positions across Gaza. One of the strikes claimed the life of Tayseer Jabari, the commander of the faction’s military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, in Gaza’s northern sector.
The PIJ response came within a few hours. Late on August 5, the al-Quds Brigades began firing rockets at several targets in southern and central Israel, including the city of Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport.
The IDF escalated its strikes starting on August 6, targeting dozens of positions of the al-Quds Brigades, including ammunition depots, rocket launch sites, mortar posts, observation towers, training camps and command centers.
Late on August 6, nine people, including four children, were killed in a strike on Jabalia city that was attributed to the IDF. Israel denied responsibility, claiming that the deadly accident was caused by a malfunctioning rocket that was launched by the al-Quds Brigades. These allegations were rejected by the Palestinian sources.
Early on August 7, the PIJ received a heavy blow when Khaled Mansour, the commander of the al-Quds Brigades in Gaza’s southern section was killed in an Israeli strike that targeted the city of Rafah near the border with Egypt.
The Health Ministry in Gaza said that 43 people, including 15 children and four women, were killed in the first three days of Operation Breaking Dawn. More than 311 others were wounded.
Meanwhile, the IDF revealed that the al-Quds Brigades and other factions in Gaza had fired more than 900 rockets. The IDF claimed that most of the rockets which were heading towards populated areas were intercepted by Iron Dome systems.
Israeli emergency service representative, the Magen David Adom, said that 28 people were hospitalized for injuries as a result of rocket fire from Gaza. Two of the injured were lightly hurt by shrapnel and 19 others were wounded as they ran for shelter. In addition, seven people were taken to hospital for treatment for anxiety.
Despite inflicting some heavy losses on the PIJ, Israel failed to deter the group or destroy its offensive capabilities. Now, after much effort by Egypt both sides appear to be heading towards a lengthy ceasefire.