GAZA CITY: Four women, four children, and two other civilians were among 13 people killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Among the dead were three senior commanders of the militant Islamic Jihad group, Israel’s military said.
Palestinian health officials said the victims included the commanders, their wives, several of their children, and others nearby.
Forty warplanes took part in simultaneous strikes that hit the apartments of the Islamic Jihad commanders and the movement’s training sites and watch towers on the Israel-Gaza border.
Islamic Jihad identified the killed military leaders as Jihad Al-Ghanam, secretary of the military council, Khalil Al-Bahtimi, commander of Gaza’s northern region, and Tariq Ezz El-Din, a member of the military council in the West Bank.
Among the 10 civilian victims of the Israeli airstrikes was a dentist known for offering free treatment to poor families, who lived in the same residential block as Ezz El-Din, according to Reuters.
Jamal Khuswan was killed along with his wife, Mervat, and 21-year-old son Youssef, a medical student, who were all asleep in their apartment in the center of Gaza city.
The former chief executive of Al-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital and a leader in the local union of dentists, Khuswan was hailed by the health department as a national figure, “who spared no effort to carry out his humanitarian duty.”
Twenty people were also injured in the attacks including three children and seven women.
In a statement, the Israeli army said: “Our forces attacked sites for the production of weapons for Islamic Jihad, including workshops for the production of missiles in Khan Yunis, in addition to a site used to produce cement materials for the construction of terrorist tunnels.
“Six military compounds belonging to the Islamic Jihad were also targeted, most of which were used as weapons depots and logistical structures. A military site in the southern Gaza Strip was also targeted.”
Gaza’s Ministry of Education announced the closure of schools and educational institutions in the wake of the Israeli strikes but kept some government institutions open to provide services.
In a press statement, Islamic Jihad said: “The Palestinian response to this heinous aggressive massacre will not be delayed, and the Al-Quds Brigades and the resistance will never tolerate this bloodshed.
“The enemy will not achieve its goals and desires behind this heinous crime, for the resistance has unified ranks and its positions are firm.”
Israel carried out a similar raid in August, which led to the outbreak of a military confrontation that lasted for three days.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, said:
“Assassinating the leaders in a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but rather more resistance.
“Only the resistance will determine the way to hurt the treacherous enemy. The aggression targets all of our people. The resistance is united in confronting it.”
Palestinian militant groups in Gaza have previously retaliated for such targeted killings. In anticipation of Palestinian rocket attacks in response to the airstrikes, the Israeli military advised residents of communities within 40 kilometers of Gaza to stay close to designated bomb shelters.
Israeli authorities ordered the closure of schools, beaches, and highways in cities and towns in southern Israel, and limited public gatherings.