Security Cabinet meets as more than 350 missiles target Israel, sirens sound in Tel Aviv

Fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza Strip continued on Saturday for a second day, with several Israeli strikes on the Strip and hundreds of rockets fired at Israeli towns.

By Saturday evening, Israeli officials said more than 350 rockets had been fired from the Palestinian enclave. For the first time in the current conflict, sirens sounded in downtown Tel Aviv. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two incoming missiles and two more fell into the sea.

The vast majority of the rockets did not endanger Israeli communities, but a few did hit towns, causing damage but no casualties. One of them crashed into a street in Ashkelon, injuring nearby cars. A second strike hit a house in Sderot where the family hid in a fortified room; A third plane hit factory buildings in Sderot. A fourth factory was hit in an undisclosed town near the border.

Meanwhile, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said at least 24 people were killed in Gaza, including six children. But the Israeli army He said that a Palestinian missile was wrong On Saturday evening, seven of those 24 were killed, including several children.

Israel’s high-level security cabinet met Saturday night to review the status of Operation Dawn and consider the army’s future actions.

With continued Israeli air strikes on Islamic Jihad positions in the Strip, the commander of the Gaza military division told Channel 12 news that there were still “many” targets to be bombed.

The military launched the operation with air strikes in Gaza on Friday afternoon in response to what officials said was a persistent “concrete” threat by Palestinian Islamic Jihad to target Israeli civilians and soldiers. Then the Islamic Jihad movement began launching a relentless barrage of rockets at Israeli towns in southern and central Israel, with the rocket fire continuing into Saturday night.

The latest data of the Israeli army indicates that the number of rockets fired at Israel reached 350. Of them, 94 rockets fell in the Gaza Strip and 29 others fell in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the data, the Iron Dome air defense system intercepted 162 shells. The military said Iron Dome showed a 95.9 percent success rate in intercepting projectiles fired toward populated areas. The system is programmed to ignore missiles that are not considered a threat.

Rocket strike on the southern city of Ashkelon after a barrage of rockets fired toward Israel by a terror group in Gaza, August 6, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Three people, including two soldiers, were also slightly wounded in separate mortar shelling near a town in the Eshkol Regional Council.

Magen David Adom Ambulance Service said it has evacuated 21 people to hospitals since the start of the fighting, including two who were lightly wounded by shrapnel from a missile, 13 after falling while fleeing to a shelter, and six out of anxiety.

Army chief Aviv Kohavi said Israel would target Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and elsewhere. During a visit to the Southern Command, Kohavi said the IDF had two main goals. “The first is to prevent all attacks, and the second is to strike the Islamic Jihad organization decisively here in Judea and Samaria and all other sectors,” he said.

People carry the body of the Palestinian Hassan Mansour, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, during his funeral in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, August 6, 2022 (Anas Baba / AFP)

He said, “We will not allow any organization in any arena to prejudice the sovereignty of the State of Israel.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a similar threat to PIJ leaders, who operate mostly from other countries hostile to Israel. “The leadership of Islamic Jihad, which sits outside in restaurants and stays in hotels in Tehran, Syria and Lebanon, is isolated from its people,” he said during a tour of an Iron Dome-style air defense battery in southern Israel.

He said they are “seriously harming” the livelihoods of Gazans amid the current escalation of violence, and that they will “pay the bill as well.”

Earlier on Saturday, the Israeli army said it was ready for a possible week of fighting against Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and later announced that it had bombed several of the group’s observation points and weapons storage sites in the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza Health Ministry said on Saturday that the death toll in the recent violence in the Strip had risen to 24, including six children, but Israel denied launching a new raid that killed seven of them, including children.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza blamed the “Israeli aggression” for killing and wounding 203 others.

But an Israeli government statement denied blame for a raid on Jabalia that was said to have killed children.

She added, “The Israeli security forces have not bombed Jabalia during the past hours. It has been proven conclusively that this incident was the result of a failure to launch a missile launched by the Islamic Jihad movement,” she said, citing video and radar evidence.

Smoke rises from an Israeli air strike on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, August 6, 2022 (AFP)

In the first round of Israeli strikes on Friday, the army killed a senior PIJ commander, Taysir al-Jabari, who officials said was planning to attack Israeli civilians near the border. Al-Jabari replaced Baha Abu al-Atta as the leader of the organization in northern Gaza after the latter was killed in an Israeli raid in 2019.

Israeli leaders said the air strikes were necessary after the terror group refused to back down from its intentions to carry out attacks on the Gaza border. Besides Jabari, the IDF also said it targeted the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s anti-tank guided missile group and several teams preparing for attacks.

Islamic Jihad has been threatening since Tuesday an attack — to reinforce its demand that Israel release its leader in the West Bank, Basem al-Saadi, who was arrested in an IDF raid in Jenin on Monday — causing road closures and community closures in areas close to Gaza. Borders are under direct threat.

Meanwhile, Egypt has been trying to mediate between the two sides in recent days, but has failed to persuade Islamic Jihad to back down. On Saturday, Egyptian negotiators proposed a cessation of hostilities to create an opportunity to negotiate a long-term ceasefire.

A missile launched from the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system from the outskirts of the southern Israeli city of Sderot, August 6, 2022 (Jack Guez/AFP)

Hezbollah’s Al-Mayadeen TV channel reported that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad rejected the temporary ceasefire proposal. A source in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad told the network, “It is time to respond to the crimes of the occupation.”

Israeli officials said the Gaza operation was specifically targeting Islamic Jihad, hoping to largely keep Hamas out of the conflict as it did during the 2019 escalation after the killing of a former Islamic Jihad leader, Abu al-Atta.

As of Saturday night, it appeared that Hamas was still a long way from fighting for the time being. Although its leaders’ statements included fiery rhetoric against Israel, it has so far avoided participating in the attacks.

Palestinians in Gaza fire rockets at Israel, August 5, 2022 (Mahmud Hams / AFP)

The IDF has begun calling in reservists to reinforce its Southern Command, Home Front Command, Air Defense Group, and combat forces in the event of a further escalation. Gantz’s office said Gantz had agreed to call up up to 25,000 reservists.