The “preemptive attack” launched on Friday by Israel against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad bordered on open war this Sunday before the mediation of Egypt led to a ceasefire after three days of hostilities. Both sides seem to have accepted the truce that is scheduled to come into force effectively at 11:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. in mainland Spain). The Israeli prime minister himself, Yair Lapid, informed the mayors of towns near the Strip that the truce had been agreed upon. Spokesmen for the Islamic Jihad limited themselves at first to indicating that the negotiations to stop the conflict were still underway, but they ended up supporting the cessation of hostilities.
The bombings have caused 41 deaths during the offensive. The objective of liquidating the main leaders of the Al Quds Brigades (military arm of the Jihad) has been fulfilled, but numerous civilians have also lost their lives, including 15 children. The Armed Forces intensified during the morning of Sunday the operation baptized as Awakening of the Dawn. The Islamist militia, meanwhile, redoubled the launch of rockets, with a thousand projectiles fired since the start of the escalation without causing casualties. Missile alarm sirens have been activated in recent hours around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The offensive had continued this Sunday for the third consecutive day, while the 2.3 million inhabitants of Gaza hid in their homes and tens of thousands of Israelis from towns surrounding the Strip remained most of the time in bomb shelters. It was the largest outbreak of war since the general conflict in May last year, which was the fourth war suffered in the enclave in the last 15 years after the Islamist movement Hamas came to power.
At the center of the target of the selective assassinations with missiles was the commander Taysir al Jabari, better known as Abu Mahmud, head of the northern zone of the Strip, killed in the first Israeli attack on Friday. Commander Khalid Mansur, in command of the southern zone, was liquidated along with two other jihadists on Saturday night in a coordinated attack with the Shin Bet (internal intelligence). A military command has declared to the Hebrew press that the second largest militia in Gaza (after Ezedin al Qassam, the armed wing of Hamas) has been practically decapitated.
In parallel, the Israeli Army has continued to launch successive raids to capture dozens of members of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank. Both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas government have limited themselves to condemning the attacks against the Islamist military leaders in the coastal enclave, without opposing political or military pressure to the Army’s offensive.
More than 140 Islamic Jihad targets have already been destroyed in the military campaign, including a tunnel under the border for attacks into Israeli territory, rocket launch pads, and weapons factories and depots, according to information disseminated by military spokesmen. Israel has counted the launch of more than a hundred rockets that did not cross the limits of the Palestinian territory.
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The Iron Dome defense system has intercepted 185 projectiles. For the Army, this data is equivalent to a success rate of 97%, since the anti-missile shield batteries are only activated when their radars detect a defined trajectory towards a populated area. Residents of Mevasert Sion and Abu Gosh, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, reported strong explosions caused by the impact of Iron Dome interceptors against Jihad projectiles on Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon, alerts multiplied in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area until shortly before the ceasefire came into effect.
The balance of victims published by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza has raised the death toll to 41, and to nearly 300 the number of wounded, in the bombings since the beginning of the offensive. Eight of the fatalities fell on Friday in Rafah (south), in the Israeli attack against Commander Mansur of the al-Quds Brigades. Six other people lost their lives, including four children, in Jabalya (north) in an explosion caused by an Israeli missile, according to Palestinian sources, and by a failed Islamic Jihad rocket, according to the Army, which has rushed to spread a video (not independently verified) in which it shows the supposed erroneous drift of the projectile. In another similar confusing incident, Palestinian media reported on Sunday evening of the death of up to five civilians, including minors, in a new explosion in the Jabalya area.
A group closely linked to Iran
Islamic Jihad, which only has a thousand militants and an arsenal of some 5,000 rockets, is weakened after the Israeli operations unleashed against its leaders in 2019 and 2021. It is closely linked to Iran, while Hamas maintains a strategic alliance with Qatar, its main regional support. Both groups are classified as terrorists by the US and the EU.
Egypt and the United Nations have kept a mediation path open to try to silence the weapons in Gaza, while Hamas, an ally of Jihad, has remained on the sidelines of the hostilities. In the negotiations between Israel and the Gaza militias, the imposition of a period of several hours without attacks is usually established before a permanent ceasefire is considered valid. An Egyptian diplomat quoted by the Haaretz newspaper had warned that if a ceasefire agreement was not closed, Hamas could join the conflict.
The tension caused by the explosions from the shooting of rockets around Jerusalem has coincided this Sunday with the visit of hundreds of ultra-nationalist and religious Israelis to the Esplanade of the Mosques, in the Islamic heart of the Holy City, during the holiday that commemorates the destruction of the Jewish temples that were erected, according to the Hebrew tradition, in that same place. A strong police deployment has prevented Jewish visitors from praying in the compound that houses the Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest place in Islam, against the regulations established by the authorities, fearing a new outbreak of Palestinian violence. in the Old City.
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