IDF strikes Gaza targets, killing Islamic Jihad leader as 'special situation' declared

The Israeli military announced 'Operation Breaking Dawn' after four days of terror threats from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad


The Israel Defence Forces said on Friday that it had begun striking targets in the Gaza Strip, and a "special situation" requiring emergency measures was declared in parts of Israel.

The strikes in Gaza - codenamed Operation Breaking Dawn - come just hours after Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz warned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad that Israel would act if the terror group did not back down from intended attacks in Israel.

This follows a number of threats from the terror group since Tuesday to attack within Israel following the arrest of its West Bank leader. Residents in areas near the border with Gaza have seen days of road closures and lockdowns due to the immediate threat.

A "special situation" has been declared within Israel, which is a legal term used in times of emergency and grants the authorities greater powers over the civilian population to streamline defensive measures.

The authorities have imposed a number of restrictions in areas within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of Gaza that are close to the border, with all educational activities suspended, gatherings limited, and work activities conditional on being able to reach a "protected space" like a bomb shelter within a short time period.

The IDF has also deployed Iron Dome defensive missile batteries in Central Israel due to mounting concern about missile attacks from the Gaza Strip.

A senior Islamic Jihad commander, Tayseer Jabari, was killed in the IDF strikes, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah has vowed to fire rockets at Tel Aviv in response, according to reports.

Tensions around the Gaza Strip have heightened this week since the arrest of PIJ leader Bassam Saadi in Jenin on Monday night. The IDF has since bolstered its forces in the area, closing nearby routes along the border due to fear of a revenge attack by the Islamic Jihad. Residents near the border have been kept largely under lockdown.

In response to threats from the terror group, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said this morning: “To our enemies in general and to the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad I say explicitly, ‘Your time is limited. The threat will be removed one way or another.'

Speaking at a press conference held at the military’s Southern Command in Beersheba, Gantz said that the terror group is holding citizens of Gaza "hostage" as, due to the threats, the Erev Crossing, which is used by thousands of Palestinians every day, has remained closed.

He went to say that Israel was preparing for "any action that will be required, on all fronts from the south, the center and the north. We will continue operational activity in all sectors, as long as required.”

Addressing the rest of the world, and “especially” countries involved in Gaza, the defence minister said Israel was “acting with restraint” but would act with “power” to return civilian life in southern Israel to “full normalcy.”

He added: "We are not striving for a fight, but we will not hesitate if we have to."

"Our mission is to ensure that the tension ends and routine returns. I say to the residents of the surrounding area, we are with you and we will do everything necessary to protect you, responsibly, decisively and according to considerations of using force that will lead to the required result."

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