Israel killed 15 Palestinians in air strikes, including a well-known dentist, his wife and 21-year-old son who lived in the same Gaza City apartment block as militant leader Izzeldeen, as well as seven other civilians including women and children elsewhere in the enclave, Palestinian officials said yesterday.
Two men died later, Palestinian paramedics said, after Israeli jets hit what the military called an anti-tank team near the southern border of Israeli-blockaded Gaza.
Israeli military spokesmen said the “pinpoint” operation involved 40 aircraft but they confirmed that women and children had been killed.
While the West Bank and Jerusalem have seen a spread of Israeli-Palestinian violence over the past year, exchanges of fire across the fortified Gaza border have also intensified — most recently following the death last week of an Islamic Jihad leader on hunger strike in Israeli custody. Israel also killed three Islamic Jihad commanders in Gaza, drawing threats of reprisals and warnings of a further escalation in fighting.
The strikes, targeting senior commanders Israel said had planned attacks from Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, were the latest in an extended period of Israeli-Palestinian violence stretching back more than a year. Islamic Jihad confirmed the death of the commanders, Jihad Ghannam and Tareq Izzeldeen — who an Israeli military spokesman said orchestrated operations in the West Bank and sought to bring rockets to the city of Jenin — as well as Khalil al-Bahtini who co-ordinated rockets fired at Israel a week earlier.
Dawoud Shehab, a spokesperson for the Islamic Jihad, said Israel “must expect a response at any moment and anywhere”.
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