By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Israel hit Gaza with air strikes today and a Palestinian militant group retaliated with a barrage of rocket fire, in the territory’s worst escalation of violence since a war last year.
Israel has said it was forced to launch a “pre-emptive” operation against Islamic Jihad, insisting the group was planning an imminent attack following days of tensions along the Gaza border.
Health authorities in Gaza, a Palestinian enclave controlled by the Islamist group Hamas, said 11 people have been killed by Israel’s bombardment, including a five-year-old girl, with more than 80 others injured. Israel’s army estimated that its operation has killed 15 militants.
Early today Israel broadened its operation against Islamic Jihad, a group that is aligned with Hamas but often acts independently.
The Israeli army announced the arrest of 19 people it said were members of the group in the occupied West Bank, alongside the arrest of one other person.
Israel and Islamic Jihad have both confirmed the killing of Taysir al-Jabari, a key leader of the militants, in a Friday strike on a building in the west of Gaza city.
Islamic Jihad said that initial Israeli bombardment amounted to a “declaration of war”, before it unleashed a barrage of rockets towards Israel.
The rocket fire and Israeli strikes were continuing on Saturday, risking a repeat of an 11-day conflict in May 2021 that devastated Gaza and forced countless Israelis to rush to bomb shelters.
Daily life in the enclave has come to a standstill, with streets largely deserted and most shops closed. Some power lines have been disrupted by the Israeli air strikes.