New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes

New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes
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Mourners carry the body of Palestinian girl Alaa Qadoum during her funeral in Gaza City on August 5, 2022. (REUTERS/Ashraf Amra)
New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes
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Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, on Aug. 5, 2022. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
A Palestinian firefighter fights the blaze amid the destruction following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, on Aug. 5, 2022. (AFP)
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A Palestinian firefighter fights the blaze amid the destruction following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, on Aug. 5, 2022. (AFP)
New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes
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Smoke and fire rise above Gaza City during an Israeli air strike, on Aug. 5, 2022. (Anas Baba / AFP)
New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes
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Smoke and flame are seen during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on August 5, 2022. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes
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Trails of smoke from rockets fired by Palestinian militants into Israel are pictured in Gaza on August 5, 2022. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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Updated 06 August 2022

New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes

New all-out war in Gaza looms as Israel, militants swap air and rocket strikes
  • At least 10 people, including a 5-year-old girl, were killed in wave of Israeli airstrikes, say Palestinian officials
  • Islamic Jihad said Taiseer Al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was among the dead

GAZA CITY: Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes Friday on Gaza, killing at least 10 people, including a senior militant, according to Palestinian officials. Israel said it targeted the Islamic Jihad militant group in response to an “imminent threat” following the recent arrest of another senior militant.
Hours later, Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets as air-raid sirens wailed in Israel and the two sides drew closer to another all-out war. Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired 100 rockets.
Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years at a staggering cost to the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
A blast was heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured out of the seventh floor of a tall building. Video released by Israel’s military showed the strikes blowing up three guard towers with suspected militants in them.

In a nationally televised speech, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country launched the attacks based on “concrete threats.”
“This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks — of any kind — from Gaza toward Israeli territory,” Lapid said. “Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who are trying to harm its civilians.”
He added that “Israel isn’t interested in a broader conflict in Gaza but will not shy away from one either.”
The violence poses an early test for Lapid, who assumed the role of caretaker prime minister ahead of elections in November, when he hopes to keep the position. He has experience in diplomacy, having served as foreign minister in the outgoing government, but his security credentials are thin.
Hamas also faces a dilemma in deciding whether to join a new battle barely a year after the last war caused widespread devastation. There has been almost no reconstruction since then, and the isolated coastal territory is mired in poverty, with unemployment hovering around 50 percent.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among those killed in Gaza, without differentiating between civilian and militant casualties. The Israeli military said early estimates were that around 15 fighters were killed. Dozens of people were wounded.




Palestinian mourners carry the body of Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer al-Jabari, killed in an Israeli air strike, during his funeral in Gaza City on Aug. 5, 2022. (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

Islamic Jihad said Taiseer Al-Jabari, its commander for northern Gaza, was among the dead. He had succeeded another militant killed in an airstrike in 2019.
An Israeli military spokesman said the strikes were in response to an “imminent threat” from two militant squads armed with anti-tank missiles. The spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said Al-Jabari was deliberately targeted and had been responsible for “multiple attacks” on Israel.
Hundreds marched in a funeral procession for him and others who were killed, with many mourners waving Palestinian and Islamic Jihad flags and calling for revenge.
Israeli media showed the skies above southern and central Israel lighting up with rockets and interceptors from Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. An explosion was heard in Tel Aviv.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many rockets were launched, and there was no immediate word on any casualties on the Israeli side.
Israel continued to strike other targets Friday, including weapon-production facilities and Islamic Jihad positions.




Image grabs obtained from a video reportedly shows an Islamic Jihad observation post being targeted by the Israeli army in the Gaza strip on August 5, 2022. (AFP / IDF video)

The UN special envoy to the region, Tor Wennesland, said he was “deeply concerned.”
“The launching of rockets must cease immediately, and I call on all sides to avoid further escalation,” he said.
Following the initial Israeli strikes, a few hundred people gathered outside the morgue at Gaza City’s main Shifa hospital. Some went in to identify loved ones and emerged later in tears.
“May God take revenge against spies,” shouted one, referring to Palestinian informants who cooperate with Israel.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved an order to call up 25,000 reserve soldiers if needed while the military announced a “special situation” on the home front, with schools closed and limits placed on activities in communities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the border.
Israel closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it braced for a revenge attack after Monday’s arrest of Bassam Al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad leader, in a military raid in the occupied West Bank. A teenage member of the group was killed in a gunbattle between the Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.
Hamas seized power in the coastal strip from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. Its most recent war with Israel was in May 2021, and tensions soared again earlier this year following a wave of attacks inside Israel, near-daily military operations in the West Bank and tensions at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Al-Nakhalah, speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV network from Iran, said “fighters of the Palestinian resistance have to stand together to confront this aggression.” He said there would be “no red lines” and blamed the violence on Israel.




Palestinians hold placards depicting slain Islamic Jihad commander Tayseer Al-Jabari as they demonstrate in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Aug. 5, 2022 against Israeli strikes in Gaza. (AFP)

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli enemy, which started the escalation against Gaza and committed a new crime, must pay the price and bear full responsibility for it.”
Islamic Jihad is smaller than Hamas but largely shares its ideology. Both groups are opposed to Israel’s existence and have carried out scores of deadly attacks over the years, including the firing of rockets into Israel. It’s unclear how much control Hamas has over Islamic Jihad, and Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.
Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight blockade over the territory since the Hamas takeover. Israel says the closure is needed to prevent Hamas from building up its military capabilities, while critics say the policy amounts to collective punishment.
Mohammed Abu Selmia, director of the Shifa hospital, said hospitals faced shortages after Israel imposed a full closure on Gaza earlier this week. He said there were enough supplies and essential drugs to sustain hospitals for five days in normal times, but that with a new round of fighting underway, “they may run out at any moment.”




Palestinian women sitting outside a hospital react following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on August 5, 2022. (Said Khatib / AFP)

Israel called off an expected fuel delivery for Gaza’s sole power plant, which was expected to shut down early Saturday if the fuel did not enter the territory. Even when the plant is running at full capacity, Gazans still endure daily power outages that last several hours.
Earlier Friday, a couple of hundred Israelis protested near the Gaza Strip to demand the return of the remains of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas.
The protesters were led by the family of Hadar Goldin, who along with Oron Shaul was killed in the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas is still holding their remains, as well as two Israeli civilians who strayed into Gaza and are believed to be mentally ill, hoping to exchange them for some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Israel says there can be no major moves toward lifting the blockade until the soldiers’ remains and captive civilians are released. Israel and Hamas have held numerous rounds of Egyptian-mediated talks on a possible swap.


Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce

Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce
Updated 08 August 2022

Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce

Jordan government reiterates support to Yemen truce
  • Jordan’s foreign minister added that the country has received ‘7,000 Yemenis since the start of the armistice’

DUBAI: Jordan’s foreign minister Ayman Safadi said on Monday that Amman is ‘committed to continuing its support for Yemen and enhancing its stability.’

Safadi, who spoke in a joint press conference with his Yemeni counterpart, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, said Jordan supports the truce in Yemen and ‘roads to Taiz must be opened.’

“A comprehensive agreement must be reached in Yemen in accordance to the Gulf’s references and initiatives,” he said.

Jordan’s foreign minister added that the country has received ‘7,000 Yemenis since the start of the armistice.’

Also speaking at the conference, bin Mubarak accused the Iran-backed Houthis of not abiding by a key element in the UN-brokered truce to reopen roads to the besieged city of Taiz saying the group was “running away” from its commitments.

He said the Houthis ‘imposed’ the war on the country after the militia’s failed uprising, laying a siege on Taiz and its residents for seven years using ‘minefields’.

Bin Mubarak confirmed his government's support to expand the truce into a ‘comprehensive political agreement.’

He said all nations are ‘facing the Iranian project’, which chose Yemen as its station.

Meanwhile, Safadi condemned the recent attacks in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque during the meeting.

‘We are committed to the two-state solution,’ he said.

Bin Mubarak also announced an upcoming visit of Rashad Al-Alimi, the chairman of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, to Jordan.


Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad

Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad
Updated 08 August 2022

Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad

Gaza crossing opens as truce holds between Israel, Islamic Jihad
  • Trucks passed from Israel through the Kerem Shalom goods crossing to southern Gaza

RAFAH, Palestinian Territories: Gaza’s sole power plant also restarted Monday after fuel trucks passed from Israel into the Palestinian enclave following the start of truce ending three days of deadly conflict, the electricity company said.

“The plant has started working to generate electricity,” Mohammed Thabet, spokesman for the company, told AFP. The plant had shut on Saturday after running out of fuel following Israel's closure of the goods crossing. 

An AFP journalist at the goods crossing to southern Gaza saw trucks loaded with fuel enter the enclave, ending a severe shortage which had prompted the only power station there to shut down Saturday.

The arrival of vital supplies follows the start of a cease-fire at 11:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) Sunday to stem the worst fighting in Gaza since an 11-day war last year devastated the Palestinian coastal territory. 

Gaza’s health ministry said 15 children were among 44 people killed in three days of intense fighting.

Despite a flurry of strikes and rocket attacks in the run-up to the truce, neither side had reported any major violations of the agreement overnight.

The Israeli military said roads would gradually reopen in the border area on Monday.

“It was decided to gradually lift the restrictions,” which have seen Israelis living near Gaza remain close to their bomb shelters, the army said.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire and thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his country’s role in brokering it.

UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said in a statement: “The situation is still very fragile, and I urge all parties to observe the cease-fire.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office late Sunday thanked “Egypt for its efforts” as it agreed to the truce, but said that “if the cease-fire is violated,” Israel “maintains the right to respond strongly.”

Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed group designated as a terrorist organization by several Western nations, also accepted the truce but said it too “reserves the right to respond” to any aggression.

Starting on Friday, Israel had launched a heavy aerial and artillery bombardment of Islamic Jihad positions in Gaza, leading the militants to fire hundreds of rockets in retaliation.

In addition to those killed, Gazan health officials said 360 people had been wounded in the Palestinian enclave, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas.

A senior Israeli diplomatic official said Monday that “most of the civilians that were killed in Gaza were killed by Islamic Jihad rockets” that fell short or misfired.

Three people in Israel were wounded by shrapnel, while 31 others were lightly hurt while running for safety, emergency services said.

Islamic Jihad member Mohammad Al-Hindi said the cease-fire deal “contains Egypt’s commitment to work toward the release of two prisoners.”

They were named as Bassem Al-Saadi, a senior figure in the group’s political wing who was recently arrested in the occupied West Bank, and Khalil Awawdeh, a militant also in Israeli detention.

Gaza resident Nour Abu Sultan, 29, said the three days of conflict were “terrifying,” and that she had been unable to sleep during the “shelling and rockets, the sound of aircraft above us.”

Dalia Harel, a resident of the Israeli town of Sderot close to the Gaza border, said she was “disappointed” at news of a truce Sunday despite her five children being “traumatized.”

“We’re tired of having a military operation every year,” she said. “We need our military and political leaders to get it over with once and for all... we’re not for war, but we can’t go on like this.”

Islamic Jihad is aligned with Hamas but often acts independently. Hamas has fought four wars with Israel since seizing control of Gaza in 2007, including the conflict in May last year.

Israel has said it was necessary to launch a “pre-emptive” operation against Islamic Jihad, while the diplomatic official said the group had been planning an attack by sniper fire or with anti-tank missiles.

The army has killed senior leaders of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, including Taysir Al-Jabari and Khaled Mansour.

The senior Israeli diplomatic official said Islamic Jihad had been dealt “a very serious blow” which had “taken them back decades.”


Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death

Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death
Updated 08 August 2022

Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death

Iran: Police arrest Afghan suspected of stabbing 10 to death
  • According to the report, the suspect was mentally unbalanced
  • Violent acts have escalated in recent years in Iran as the country’s economic conditions deteriorate

TEHRAN: Police in Iran arrested an Afghan man suspected of stabbing 10 other farm laborers to death following a quarrel over land, Iranian state media reported Monday. The rampage in a remote village in southeastern Iran was a rare such incident in the Islamic Republic.
The official IRNA news agency said four Iranians and six Afghans were killed, and one farm worker was wounded in the rampage on Sunday and was in hospital. According to the report, the suspect was mentally unbalanced.
A decades-long drought in Iran has caused increased disputes over water resources and land with better access to water. Hunting rifles are the only weapon that Iranians are allowed to possess legally.
Violent acts have escalated in recent years in Iran as the country’s economic conditions deteriorate amid crushing American sanctions that helped spark soaring inflation and increasing unemployment.
In May, an employee fired from one of Iran’s largest state-owned financial conglomerates went on a shooting rampage at his former workplace in western Iran, killing three people and wounding five before turning the gun on himself.
In 2016, a 26-year-old man gunned down 10 relatives and wounded four others.


Negotiators optimistic about progress on Iran nuclear deal

Negotiators optimistic about progress on Iran nuclear deal
Updated 08 August 2022

Negotiators optimistic about progress on Iran nuclear deal

Negotiators optimistic about progress on Iran nuclear deal
  • Negotiators from Iran, the US and the European Union resumed indirect talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal Thursday after a months-long standstill in negotiations

VIENNA: Top negotiators in renewed talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal indicated Sunday that they are optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement to impose limits on Tehran’s uranium enrichment.
“We stand 5 minutes or 5 seconds from the finish line,” Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov told reporters outside Vienna’s Palais Coburg, four days into the talks. He said there are “3 or 4 issues” left to be resolved.
“They are sensitive, especially for Iranians and Americans,” Ulyanov said. “I cannot guarantee, but the impression is that we are moving in the right direction.”
Enrique Mora, the European Union’s top negotiator, also said he is “absolutely” optimistic about the talks’ progress so far.
“We are advancing, and I expect we will close the negotiations soon,” he told Iranian media.
Negotiators from Iran, the US and the European Union resumed indirect talks over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal Thursday after a months-long standstill in negotiations.
Since the deal’s de facto collapse, Iran has been running advanced centrifuges and rapidly growing its stockpile of enriched uranium.
Iran struck the nuclear deal in 2015 with the US, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China. The deal saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium under the watch of UN inspectors in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Then US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the accord in 2018, saying he would negotiate a stronger deal, but that didn’t happen. Iran began breaking the deal’s terms a year later.


‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds

‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds
Updated 08 August 2022

‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds

‘Fragile’ Gaza truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad holds
  • The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire took effect at 11:30 p.m. (2030 GMT; 4:30 p.m. EDT)
  • Israeli aircraft have pummeled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response

GAZA CITY:  A “fragile” Egypt-brokered truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza appeared to be holding early Monday, raising hopes that the recent intense conflict that has left at least 44 Palestinians dead, including 15 children, has ended.
The truce, which officially started at 11:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) Sunday night, aims to stem the worst fighting in Gaza since an 11-day war last year devastated the Palestinian coastal territory.
Though a flurry of strikes and rocket attacks took place in the run-up to the truce, with sirens sounding in southern Israel moments before and after the deadline, neither side had reported any major violations of the agreement after four hours.
In a statement sent three minutes after the cease-fire began, Israel’s army said that “in response to rockets fired toward Israeli territory, the (military) is currently striking a wide range of targets” belonging to Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
In a subsequent statement, the army clarified that its “last” strikes took place at 11:25 pm.

A fireball rises from the site of an Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip Sunday night shortly before a ceasefire took effect. (AFP)

While both sides had agreed to the truce, each had warned the other that it would respond with force to any violence.
US President Joe Biden welcomed the cease-fire, thanking Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his country’s role in brokering it. Biden also called for investigations into civilian casualties, which he called a “tragedy.”
In a statement, UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland said: “The situation is still very fragile, and I urge all parties to observe the cease-fire.”

US President Joe Biden said he welcomed the cease-fire between Israel and Gaza-based militants.
“Over these last 72-hours, the United States has worked with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others throughout the region to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict,” he said in a statement.
The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday on the violence. China, which holds the council presidency this month, scheduled the session in response to a request from the United Arab Emirates, which represents Arab nations on the council, as well as China, France, Ireland and Norway.
“We underscore our commitment to do all we can toward ending the ongoing escalation, ensuring the safety and security of the civilian population, and following-up on the Palestinian prisoners file,” said UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, in a statement.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office late Sunday thanked “Egypt for its efforts” as it agreed to the truce, but said it that “if the cease-fire is violated,” Israel “maintains the right to respond strongly.”
Islamic Jihad member Mohammad Al-Hindi had already confirmed the militants had accepted the truce, but the group added in a statement that it too “reserves the right to respond” to any aggression.

Israeli aircraft have pummeled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response. The risk of the cross-border fighting turning into a full-fledged war remained as long as no truce was reached. Israel says some of the dead were killed by misfired rockets.

In addition to the 44 people killed, 15 of them children, the Gaza health ministry said 360 people had been wounded in the Palestinian enclave, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas.
Israel insists several children in the territory have been killed by stray militant rockets.

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system fires to intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Ashkelon, Israel just before a cease-fire took effect Sunday night. (AP)

Three people in Israel have been wounded by shrapnel, while 31 others have been lightly hurt, emergency services said.

Islamic Jihad’s Hindi said the cease-fire deal “contains Egypt’s commitment to work toward the release of two prisoners.”

The pair were named as Bassem Al-Saadi, a senior figure in the group’s political wing who was recently arrested in the occupied West Bank, and Khalil Awawdeh, a militant also in Israeli detention.

Gaza’s ruling Hamas group remained on the sidelines, possibly because it fears Israeli reprisals and undoing economic understandings with Israel, including Israeli work permits for thousands of Gaza residents, that bolster its control.
Israel launched its operation with a strike Friday on a leader of the Islamic Jihad, and followed up on Saturday with another targeted strike on a second prominent leader.

The second Islamic Jihad commander, Khaled Mansour, was killed in an airstrike on an apartment building in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza late Saturday, which also killed two other militants and five civilians.
Mansour, the Islamic Jihad commander for southern Gaza, was in the apartment of a member of the group when the missile struck, flattening the three-story building and badly damaging nearby houses.
“Suddenly, without warning, the house next to us was bombed and everything became black and dusty with smoke in the blink of an eye,” said Wissam Jouda, who lives next to the targeted building.
Ahmed Al-Qaissi, another neighbor, said his wife and son were among the wounded, suffering shrapnel injuries. To make way for rescue workers, Al-Qaissi agreed to have part of his house demolished.

As a funeral for Mansour began in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the Israeli military said it was striking suspected “Islamic Jihad rocket launch posts.” Smoke could be seen from the strikes as thumps from their explosions rattled Gaza. Israeli airstrikes and rocket fire followed for hours as sirens wailed in central Israel. As the sunset call to prayer sounded in Gaza, sirens wailed as far north as Tel Aviv.
Israel says some of the deaths during this round were caused by errant rocket fire, including one incident in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza in which six Palestinians were killed Saturday. On Sunday, a projectile hit a home in the same area of Jebaliya, killing two men. Palestinians held Israel responsible, while Israel said it was investigating whether the area was struck by an errant rocket.
Israel’s Defense Ministry said mortars fired from Gaza hit the Erez border crossing into Israel, used by thousands of Gazans daily. The mortars damaged the roof and shrapnel hit the hall’s entrance, the ministry said. The crossing has been closed amid the fighting.
The Rafah strike was the deadliest so far in the current round of fighting, which was initiated by Israel on Friday with the targeted killing of Islamic Jihad’s commander for northern Gaza.

Israel said it took action against the militant group because of concrete threats of an imminent attack, but has not provided details. Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who is an experienced diplomat but untested in overseeing a war, unleashed the offensive less than three months before a general election in which he is campaigning to keep the job.

In a statement Sunday, Lapid said the military would continue to strike targets in Gaza “in a pinpoint and responsible way in order to reduce to a minimum the harm to noncombatants.” Lapid said the strike that killed Mansour was “an extraordinary achievement.”
“The operation will continue as long as necessary,” Lapid said.
Israel estimates its airstrikes killed about 15 militants.
Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its arsenal. Both groups call for Israel’s destruction, but have different priorities, with Hamas constrained by the demands of governing.

The Israeli army said militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets toward Israel. The army said its air defenses had intercepted many of them, with two of those shot down being fired toward Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas.
Air raid sirens sounded in the Jerusalem area for the first time Sunday since last year’s Israel-Hamas war.
Jerusalem is typically a flashpoint during periods of cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza. On Sunday, hundreds of Jews, including firebrand ultra-nationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, visited a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The visit, under heavy police protection, ended without incident, police said.
Such demonstrative visits by Israeli hard-liners seeking to underscore Israeli claims of sovereignty over contested Jerusalem have sparked violence in the past. The holy site sits on the fault line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is central to rival narratives of Palestinians and Israeli Jews.
In Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank, Israeli security forces said they detained 19 people on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic Jihad during overnight raids.
By Sunday, Hamas still appeared to stay out of the battle. The group has a strong incentive to avoid another war. Last year’s Israel-Hamas war, one of four major conflicts and several smaller battles over the last 15 years, exacted a staggering toll on the impoverished territory’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents.
Since the last war, Israel and Hamas have reached tacit understandings based on trading calm for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas overran the territory 15 years ago. Israel has issued 12,000 work permits to Gaza laborers, and has held out the prospect of granting another 2,000 permits.
The lone power plant in Gaza ground to a halt at noon Saturday due to lack of fuel. Israel has kept its crossing points into Gaza closed since Tuesday. With the new disruption, Gazans can use only four hours of electricity a day, increasing their reliance on private generators and deepening the territory’s chronic power crisis amid peak summer heat.