Israel launches air raids on Gaza after rocket fire

Al-Jazeera  /  February 2, 2023

Powerful explosions shake buildings and light up the night sky as Israel bombs Gaza.

The Israeli military has launched air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip, as fears over escalating violence continue in the region.

The attacks early on Thursday come in the wake of a deadly Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin last week.

Ten Palestinians were killed as a result of the raid, which was followed by Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis over the weekend, including a shooting in occupied East Jerusalem in which seven Israelis were killed.

The unrest has also triggered exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian groups in Gaza.

This included rockets fired from the blockaded strip on Wednesday night, which were claimed by Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

The Israeli military said its air raids hit rocket and weapon production sites used by Hamas, the group that governs Gaza.

“Our Al-Qassam Brigades heroically confront the occupation’s aggression and its bombing of the Strip,” said Qassem.

He added that the rocket fire was a response to the raids in the occupied West Bank, and the treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

After the raids, new rounds of rockets fired from Gaza and explosions that shook buildings and lit up the night sky over Gaza.

Ahmed Abu Jarad, a father-of-three living in Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, described the Israeli bombardment as a “nightmare”.

“Every second there was bombing very close to my house,” Abu Jarad told Al-Jazeera. “We cannot sleep from it. The sound of the explosions is very strong, shaking the whole place. This is the second time in just one week. It has become unbearable.”

Air raid sirens meanwhile sounded in Israeli areas.

There were no immediate reports of serious casualties.

The armed unit of the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it had launched rocket salvos at Israel early on Thursday in response to the air raids and the “systematic aggression” against Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

In a tweet sent after Wednesday’s rocket launch, Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees prisons, said he would push ahead with plans to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners.

“The rocket fire from Gaza will not stop me from continuing efforts to cancel summer camp conditions for murderous terrorists,” he said, adding that he had asked the security cabinet to convene.

Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners has been routinely criticized by human rights organizations, with hundreds held without charge in what Israel calls “administrative detention”.

Israel has been carrying out near-daily raids in the West Bank for a year.

A new far-right Israeli government came into power at the end of last year, and January has been a particularly bloody month for Palestinians, in which 35 people, both fighters and civilians, were killed.

Israeli forces have killed at least 200 Palestinians in the past year.



Israel launches air strikes on Gaza Strip

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  February 2, 2023

Palestinian factions responded by firing missiles in the latest round of cross-border fire. No casualties reported.

Israel carried out overnight air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday, prompting Palestinian fighters to fire rockets, according to reports from both sides.

There were no casualties reported on either side.

Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian movement Hamas that rules Gaza, said its defence forces responded to the raids “with surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft missiles”.

The bombing comes hours after the Israeli army announced that a single missile was fired from Gaza towards the settlements surrounding the Strip.

AFP reported that the first round of strikes – at least seven- hit a training centre of Al-Qassam Brigades. The centre is in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. 

Another round of air strikes hit Al-Qassam Brigades’ training centre southwest of Gaza City.

A statement by the Israeli army said fighter jets had “struck a production site for raw chemical material production, preservation and storage along with a weapon manufacturing site” belonging to Hamas.

The strikes came “in response to the rocket launch from the Gaza Strip into Israel earlier” on Wednesday.

The raids come less than a week after another air strike in which Israeli warplanes fired 15 missiles on a site in Al-Maghazi refugee camp, in the centre of the enclave, causing damage to property and resulting in a power outage in the area.

Last week’s air strikes came a day after a deadly Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank killed nine Palestinians and wounded 20 others, one of whom later died from his wounds. 

They were followed by a deadly shooting by a Palestinian man in East Jerusalem which killed seven people and another shooting the following day that wounded two Israelis. 

On Wednesday, far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said Palestinian rockets were in retaliation for his decision to close bakeries run by Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, describing them as “an absurdity.”

Ben-Gvir’s office said in a statement that the move was aimed at denying “benefits and indulgences to terrorists” in Israel, which it said were denied to regular prisoners.

The move was criticized as vindictive by rights groups and the Palestinian Authority.

Deadliest month since 2015

A total of 35 Palestinians were killed by Israelis in January, making it the deadliest month for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2015.

Six of the fatalities were under the age of 18, with the youngest being 14-year-old Omar Lotfi Khumour. The victims also included 60-year-old Majda Abdel Fattah Obaid, who was reportedly shot dead while reading the Quran inside her home. 

The vast majority were shot dead by Israeli troops, while three were killed by settlers. 

More than half of those killed were in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, which, along with Nablus, has been the focus of near-nightly search-and-arrest operations by Israeli forces since last year. 

Israeli violence in the West Bank has been getting more deadly and frequent, prompting a rise in armed Palestinian resistance. 

According to data compiled by Middle East Eye, Israeli forces killed more Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2022 than in any single calendar year since the Second Intifada

The January death toll includes unarmed civilians and armed fighters.

Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has devastated the Palestinian coastal enclave’s social and economic life, is now in its 15th year.

The land, air and sea blockade, which began after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, has left two million Palestinians living in an open-air prison. The siege has been condemned as unlawful collective punishment under international law.