Israel attacks and kills top militant in Gaza

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Israel launched a military operation targeting militants in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 20 people, including women and children. The operation followed rocket fire from Gaza into Israel by Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. The group has vowed revenge, and more rocket fire is expected. Israel officials are preparing for days of fighting. The Gaza health ministry reported that four children and four women were among the dead, with another 20 people injured. The strikes hit homes and caused panic among residents. Russia’s representative office in the Palestinian territories reported that one of its citizens, a former chairman of the Gaza Dentists’ Association, was among those killed along with his wife and son. The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, confirmed the deaths of three of its commanders, along with their wives and children. The Israel Defense Forces said the commanders were responsible for rocket fire from Gaza and planning attacks on Israeli civilians in the West Bank. The IDF also targeted sites used to manufacture weapons and Islamic Jihad military facilities. The UN Middle East envoy condemned the deaths of civilians and urged all parties to exercise restraint.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned that “assassination of leaders will not bring the Occupation [Israel] security but more resistance.” The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli government “bears full responsibility for this dangerous escalation.” Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said, “Any terrorist who harms Israeli citizens will be made to regret it.” The IDF said residents of Israeli communities within 40km of Gaza had been advised to stay close to bomb shelters until Wednesday evening. The operation followed a serious flare-up last week, when Islamic Jihad and other groups fired rockets into Israel, and the Israeli military carried out air strikes in response. The militant group is the biggest in Gaza after Hamas and is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

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