In a meticulously orchestrated strike on Gaza on Thursday, a prominent military leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and two other members were tragically killed. The armed faction of the PIJ confirmed the demise of the head of its missile division, Ali Hassan Ghali, also known as Abu Muhammad, in the assault.
The armed wing of the organisation, Al Quds Brigades, announced, “Ali Ghali … commander of the rocket launch unit … was assassinated in the southern region of the Gaza Strip along with other martyrs.”
The Israeli military acknowledged its targeted strike on Ghali. Smoke was observed billowing from the densely populated coastal enclave as Israel declared it was focusing its attacks on the group’s rocket launch facilities.
The skirmish between Israel and militants in Gaza has been intensifying since Tuesday. More than 20 Palestinians, including civilians, have lost their lives in the strikes, and hundreds of retaliatory rockets have been launched. According to the Israeli military, Ghali had been ensconced in a residential complex in Khan Younis.
In the aerial attack, two other militants from the group were also killed. Ghali had led rocket offensives against Israel in recent months.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented that Israel had delivered a severe blow to the militants and cautioned, “this round is not over”. He warned the terrorists and their backers, “we see you everywhere. You can’t hide, and we choose the place and time to strike you”. He further added that Israel would determine when calm is restored.
Despite Egypt, a mediator between the two factions, claiming to have brokered a ceasefire, the efforts seemed to falter as the fighting escalated on Wednesday, with neither side willing to capitulate. White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, underscored the necessity for tension de-escalation during a call with Tzachi Hanegbi, the head of Israel’s National Security Council.
A White House statement affirmed that Mr Sullivan had “reaffirmed the administration’s ironclad support for Israel’s security, as well as its right to defend its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks”. It was also noted that Mr Sullivan encouraged “regional efforts to broker a ceasefire, and emphasised the need to de-escalate tensions and prevent further loss of life”.
Earlier on Wednesday, tensions had amplified in the occupied West Bank after Israel executed arrest raids. Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in the town of Qabatiya, claiming they had fired at them. Meanwhile, in Tubas, an Israeli soldier was injured in a separate gunfire exchange with Palestinian gunmen.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Fatima Shbair