Israel has killed at least 13 Palestinians in its latest air strikes against the besieged Gaza Strip, including civilians, four women and four children, local medical sources have confirmed. The air strikes were carried out simultaneously in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and the centre of Gaza city at about 2:30 am today.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 20 people were wounded in the air strikes, including three children and seven women. Some of the wounded are in a serious condition.
Local sources pointed out that the air strike in Gaza City targeted a residential building, killing dentist Jamal Khaswan, the Director of Al-Wafa Hospital, and his family, as well as Tareq Izzidine, an Islamic Jihad official, and his family. Another strike in the city targeted the house of Khalil Al-Bahtini, an Islamic Jihad operative, killing him along with two family members.
The attack in Rafah targeted the house of Jihad Ghannam, also an Islamic Jihad official, and one member of his family. There were no casualties reported after several other bombings in Khan Younis.
The Israeli occupation forces said that forty aircraft took part in the operation code-named “the Arrow and Shield”. The operation was apparently planned last Tuesday and its time and targets were confirmed on Friday.
The Palestinian factions mourned the martyrs and pledged a “fierce” response. Israel said that any rocket fire from Gaza will lead to a wide-scale operation that might last for days. It closed schools in settlements near Gaza, asked settlers to evacuate, closed the crossings into the Gaza Strip and asked hospitals to move vital services to fortified rooms.
Extreme far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the attacks in Gaza. His party also announced that it will return to voting with the right-wing coalition government in the parliament, the Knesset.
Opposition politicians Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz also announced their full support for any military offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza.