The most recent escalation started when the Israeli Army
assassinated Ahmad al-Ja’bary, the leader of the al-Qassam Brigades
, the armed wing of Hamas, and his deputy Mohammad al-Hamss.
Their car was targeted by an Israeli missile while driving in the center of the overpopulated city of Gaza.
The army carried out at least 50 attacks in different parts of the Gaza Strip
leading to the death of eight Palestinians
, while at least 60 were injured, some seriously.
Medical sources in Gaza reported that besides Al-Ja’bary and al-Hamss, Israeli shells also killed Mohammad Hani Kaseeh, 18; Isam Mahmoud Abu al-Ma’za, 19; Hiba Adel al-Mash-Harawi, 19; Ranaan Yousef Arafat, 3; Omar Jihad al-Mash-Harawi, 11 months; and Mahmoud Abu Sawaween, 65.
Palestinian Minister of Health in Gaza, Mofeed al-Mkhallalaty, stated that what is happening in Gaza is “a comprehensive war launched by Israel against the civilian population in Gaza killing elderly children and infants”.
He added that the latest escalation brings to mind the three-week Israeli war on Gaza
that was launched by Israel on December 27, 2008, leading to the death of more than 1,520 Palestinians, including infants, children and women, while more than 5,000 were injured, dozens of which seriously.
On his part, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated that the offensive against Gaza, dubbed as “Pillar of Defense” will be expanded.
Israeli Army Spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, stated in his Twitter feed that the war on Gaza has officially started, adding that Hamas leaders will be assassinated.
He also said that leaders of other Palestinian groups will be eliminated, and that he is running the entire operation from his command post in Tel Aviv.
The statements came after the army killed eights Palestinians, and wounded at least sixty in strikes and bombardment attacks targeting civilians areas in the coastal region.
Some of the targeted buildings in Gaza were civilian homes and schools located on Gaza City
, Rafah, and Beit Lahia. Public facilities and resistance centers were also bombarded.
Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, stated that he has approved the military offensive against Gaza, and added that he is personally leading the assault.
On Wednesday at night, the army carried out three consecutive air strikes targeting areas in Gaza City, leading to several injuries and extensive damage to civilian property.
The army also bombarded the Gaza International Airport
, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Airport has not been operational since the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada
in late September 2000, and was repeatedly bombarded and bulldozed by the Israeli army.
Furthermore, Israeli soldiers fired several artillery shells into Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip; several shells hit al-Hoda Mosque in the city.
Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza claimed responsibility for firing dozens of shells and Grad missiles into different Israeli areas, including Tel Aviv.
Israeli sources claimed that 83 shells were fired into Israel, including Be’er Sheva (Be’er As-Sabe’), Ashkelon (Asqalan
) and Sderot.
Israel said that its “Iron Dome” system managed to intercept 17 shells, including two which were fired towards Ashdod, adding that more than 55 shells were fired, starting on Wednesday evening, towards Israel.
45 shells hit areas in the Negev, while several shells hit Lachish region
, Eshkol, Ashdod and Beersheba leading to “anxiety attacks” among Israeli civilians.
Back in Gaza, ninety civilians, including 10 women, and 15 children and infants, were injured and hospitalized due to Israeli bombardment to civilians areas, and at least eight Palestinians were killed in 55 Israeli strikes carried out between Wednesday evening an around 11:30 on Wednesday at night.