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Clashes continue between Israel and Palestinian armed groups


More than 30 people have been killed since Tuesday in clashes between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip. A leader of the Islamic Jihad movement was killed Friday in an Israeli strike.

Israel eliminated a new Islamic Jihad military leader on Friday (May 12th), bringing to 33 Palestinians and one Israeli dead the toll of clashes with rockets and missiles between the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza since Tuesday.

Egypt, a traditional mediator between the belligerents, is working to obtain a truce that would put an end to the most serious escalation of violence since August 2022 between armed movements in Gaza and Israel.

According to a Palestinian source familiar with the talks, “Egypt presented [vendredi] a new formula for a ceasefire”. “The Palestinian side will study it and Egypt is also waiting for a response” from Israel, the same source said while, according to Israeli public television , an Egyptian “improved” ceasefire offer was passed on to the Jewish state.

The US State Department issued a statement late Friday “strongly condemning” the rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and “emphasizing the urgency of reaching a ceasefire agreement to prevent further civilian casualties.” and restore calm.”

The violence began on Tuesday with Israeli strikes targeting Islamic Jihad, classified as a “terrorist organization” by Israel, the European Union and the United States.

On Friday, a sixth military leader of this movement was killed in an Israeli strike on an inhabited area in the center of the Gaza Strip.

According to a latest report from the Ministry of Health in the Palestinian territory, 33 people have been killed there by the clashes since Tuesday. Among those dead are civilians, including children, as well as fighters from Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), another Palestinian armed group.

An “honorable agreement”

Since the start of its operation described as “preventive”, the Israeli army says it has struck 254 “targets” of Islamic Jihad, whether military infrastructure or members of the group.

In Israel, a person was killed Thursday in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv, by a rocket that struck an inhabited building. Emergency services reported five wounded in Israel by projectile shrapnel since the first Palestinian fire on Wednesday.

Several dozen rockets were still fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Friday, without causing any injuries.

This new violence comes after a relative respite overnight from Thursday to Friday, against a backdrop of mediation efforts for a truce.

Mohammed al-Hindi, head of the political department of Islamic Jihad, who arrived in Cairo on Thursday, told AFP on Friday morning that he hoped during the day “an honorable agreement that reflects the interests of our people and of the resistance”.

A source within Islamic Jihad told AFP that “one of the most important conditions for a ceasefire is that Israel cease the killings in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.”

In Rabat, a Foreign Ministry source on Friday “strongly condemned” “the recent Israeli aggressions against the Gaza Strip, which have caused many casualties among innocent civilians.”

An ally of Israel following the normalization of their relations in 2020, Morocco “reiterates its rejection of all violations and unilateral actions likely […] to have a negative impact on the efforts for a return to calm”, according to the same source.

On Friday, rocket warning sirens sounded even in Israeli settlements in the south of the occupied West Bank, about fifteen kilometers from Jerusalem.

The armed wing of Islamic Jihad claimed to have targeted Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israeli cities, “in response to the continuing killings and attacks on the Palestinian people”.

Residents holed up at home

According to the army, 973 rockets were fired at Israel, of which 296 were intercepted by the anti-aircraft defense system, while the population of areas bordering Gaza has been living in shelters for four days.

In Gaza City, the streets remained empty again on Friday, with residents holed up in their homes and most businesses closed.

The house of Sabah Abou Khater, 55, was destroyed in Beit Hanoun, in the north of the Palestinian territory. “Where are we going now? There are ten of us. We have no bed, no shelter, no furniture,” the woman told AFP.

The Gaza Strip, a cramped territory plagued by poverty and unemployment where 2.3 million Palestinians live, has been under an Israeli blockade since the takeover of the Islamist movement Hamas in 2007.

The territory has been the scene of several wars with Israel since 2008.

In August 2022, three days of clashes between Israel and Islamic Jihad had caused the death of 49 Palestinians, including at least 19 children according to the UN. More than a thousand rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, injuring three.

With AFP

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