Feb 1, 2023
Israeli Military Says It’s Launching a Strike in Gaza
(Bloomberg) -- Israeli warplanes bombed parts of the Gaza Strip early Thursday after a bloody month in which animosity between Palestinians and Israel has soared.
The Israeli Defense Forces said in a tweet its fighter jets “struck a production site for raw chemical material production, along with a weapon manufacturing site belonging to the Hamas Terrorist Organization.”
According to security sources with Hamas, which controls Gaza, the strikes concentrated on facilities and bases belonging to the organization’s military wing known as al Qassam Brigades and were in apparent response to the firing of two rockets from the enclave, which Hamas controls, into southern Israel.
Several explosions were heard in central Gaza Strip while residents of Gaza City could hear the buzz of fighter jets. Hamas militants fired anti-aircraft weapons at the Israeli jets, according to eyewitnesses.
Medical teams and firefighters in Gaza said no injuries had been reported but that the targets had been severely damaged.
Last week, a 21-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem shot dead seven Israelis emerging from Sabbath evening prayers and a 13-year-old shot a man and his son headed toward the Western Wall in the Old City. Those attacks appeared to have been prompted by an Israeli military raid on the West Bank city of Jenin in which eight Palestinian militants and a civilian were killed.
Earlier: Blinken Departs Mideast Leaving Aides Behind to Help Seek Calm
On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a vigorous and targeted response to the violence, suggesting that the soaring tensions were unlikely to ease soon.
During the air strikes on Gaza on Thursday, sirens were heard in the Israeli communities of Sderot and Nir Aam adjacent to the Strip. It wasn’t known if the sirens had been activated because more rockets had been fired into Israel or because Hamas was firing anti-craft rounds at the warplanes.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Tuesday, Blinken said US officials would be staying in the Middle East after his departure in an effort to help Israelis and Palestinians ease some of the tension.
“In this moment, the most immediate challenge is, as I said, defusing the cycle of violence that has people here, first and foremost, but around the region, deeply concerned,” Blinken said, adding that restarting negotiations for a Palestinian state would have to come only after calm was restored. “One step at a time.”
As the latest bout of Middle East turmoil unfolds, President Joe Biden will host King Abdullah II of Jordan at the White House on Thursday.
(Updates with Biden meeting King Abdullah, in final paragraph.)
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