- Lead Up:
Earlier this week Israel arrested Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Bassem al-Saadi. Saadi was arrested along with his son-in-law in the West Bank city of Jenin. The Israeli Security Agency, Shin Bet, stated Saadi was working “to restore the Islamic Jihad’s operations, in which he was instrumental in establishing a strong military force in Samaria in general and in Jenin in particular. His presence was a significant factor in radicalizing the organization’s operatives.” As news of his arrest spread, PIJ supporters in Gaza and the West Bank expressed their solidarity and stated they were “ready to respond.”
- Initial PIJ Response
In response to the arrest of their leader, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched more than 100 rockets into Israel. Sirens were heard across numerous Israeli cities, though the IDF stated that most of the rockets were intercepted by their Iron Dome defense system.
- Operation Breaking Dawn
On Friday, Israel launched their newest Operation “Breaking Dawn”, which targeted militant positions. Four PIJ militants, including leader Tayseer Jabari, were killed in the first strikes of the operation. A spokesperson for the IDF stated that they assumed about 15 militants have been killed. The Prime Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, said in a televised address, “Israel carried out a precise counter-terror operation against an immediate threat”. Lapid also stated, “the Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to set the agenda in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel. Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know: We will find you.”
- Further PIJ Retaliation
While on a visit to the Iranian capital Tehran, the PIJ Secretary General Ziyad al-Nakhala stated, “We will respond forcefully to this aggression, and there will be a fight in which our people will win… There are no red lines for this battle… and Tel Aviv will be under the rockets of the resistance.” Late on Friday night, sirens sounded in cities near Tel Aviv and in the south near Gaza. Again, many of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, and Israeli media reported no casualties.
- Regional & International Response
Hamas, the internationally recognized terror organization which governs the Gaza strip, condemned the Israeli military action. Their spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, stated “the Israeli enemy, who started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it.” An Al Arabiya report stated that Egypt is mediating between Israel and the PIJ to stop the current violence. The UN’s top Middle East official, Tor Wennesland said, “the launching of rockets must cease immediately, and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation.” In addition, Wessesland stated that the UN was “fully engaged with all concerned” to try to avoid any escalation of conflict and added that, “the responsibility is with the parties to avoid this from happening.”
Many have complained about the international and mainstream media’s silence in refraining from reporting on the current conflict, while others have pointed out that there has been a media bias with reporters focusing on Israel’s retaliation and not the terror group’s instigation and continuing use of rockets launched into civilian areas within Israel.