Head of Islamic Jihad operations killed as Israel abandons peace talks

A sixth Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander has been killed amid a campaign of missile strikes from Gaza


TOPSHOT - Smoke rises above buildings in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, following an Israeli strike on May 12, 2023. Israel and Gaza militants traded heavy fire, the fourth day of the worst escalation of violence in months, which has killed 29 people in the blockaded Palestinian enclave and one in Israel. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP) (Photo by SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel has abandoned ceasefire talks with Palestinian militants amid a major exchange of missile fire, according to local media.

Nearly 1000 rockets have been fired into Israel by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in just three days, killing one man in Rehovot after the Iron Dome missile defence system failed.

Israeli air force strikes on Gaza have killed more than 30, including several PIJ commanders, as the Jewish state attempts to decapitate the Islamist terror group.

PIJ say their launches are a “response to the assassinations and the continued aggression against the Palestinian people”.

After 12 hours of quiet overnight, rockets landed Friday afternoon near Jerusalem, previously unscathed by this round of fighting.

Israeli media reported that two long-range rockets were shot down near the capital by air defence systems.

Sirens in the Etzion settlement bloc and Beit Shemesh, in Jerusalem district, reportedly went off earlier today, with bomb shelters being opened for local residents.

The resumption of rocket fire marks a major setback for Egyptian efforts to negotiate a ceasefire.

On Thursday night, Egyptian media reported that the nation had brokered a truce, but neither Israel nor Palestinian leaders confirmed this.

"We have hit Islamic Jihad with the most significant blow it has ever suffered," prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said later that evening.

Israel’s campaign in Gaza, he warned, was not over yet. 

The same night, a barrage of rockets fired from the Palestinian territory hit the area around Tel Aviv.

A string of Islamic Jihad commanders have been killed since fighting began.

On Friday, unofficial reports identified a slain member as Iyad al-Hassani, who sits on the terror group's military council.

A strike launched Thursday that hit Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip killed the head of the PIJ's rocket launching force, while his deputy was hit in a separate attack nearby.

In total 33 Palestinians have now been killed by Israeli air strikes, around half of whom are civilians, the Gaza health ministry have said.

The Iranian-proxy is said to be working alongside Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza strip since 2007.

Professor Kobi Michael, who previously ran the Palestinian desk at Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said he assumed “everything” done by the Islamic Jihad was happening with Hamas’s permission. 

“Hamas provides the PIJ with rockets, with military capacities and facilities and enables the PIJ to use them as if they were launched by the PIJ to distance the Hamas from this in order to minimise the Israeli retaliation against Hamas.”

Speaking on Thursday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said: "Netanyahu tried to divide the [Palastinian] factions [in Gaza], especially Hamas, but this failed... because Islamic Jihad and Hamas are now working in full coordination and the whole campaign is conducted through one command in the joint operations room."

In total, over 930 rockets have been fired from Gaza since Tuesday, with 761 crossing the border and 181 falling short. 

The IDF has carried out 254 strikes against Islamic Jihad sites, a military spokesperson said. 

Israel's campaign was launched on Tuesday with a series of air strikes that killed three senior Islamic Jihad leaders, claiming the group was planning an attack in Israel.

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