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A senior militant from Islamic Jihad was among over 15 casualties killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip Friday, prompting the militant group to warn Israel has ‘started a war’.
Africa Daily News, New York gathered that a child was among those killed in the strikes, the enclave’s health ministry said, while Israel’s military estimated 15 combatants were killed.
The Israeli army said the strikes were part of an operation ‘against targets in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’ group.
Islamic Jihad said Israel had ‘started a war against our people’.
‘We collectively must defend ourselves and our people. We will not allow the enemy’s policy of undermining the resistance and our national perseverance,’ the group said in a statement.
Flames poured out of a building in Gaza City following an air strike, while wounded Palestinians were evacuated by medics.
Gaza’s health ministry reported ‘a five-year-old girl, targeted by the Israeli occupation’ was among those killed.
Islamic Jihad said it was mourning ‘the great jihadist commander Tayseer al-Jabari ‘Abu Mahmud’, who was killed in a Zionist assassination in Gaza City’.
An Israeli military spokesman said ‘we are assuming about 15 killed in action’ in Gaza, referring to Palestinian combatants.
‘We haven’t finished yet,’ spokesman Richard Hecht told journalists.
The attacks came four days after Israel, citing security concerns, shut down its two border crossings with Gaza and limited the mobility of Israeli citizens residing close to the border.
The actions come after two prominent members of Islamic Jihad, which has a sizable presence in Gaza, were detained in the occupied West Bank.
Hamas, the militant group which rules Gaza, said Israel has “committed a new crime for which it must pay the price”.
“The resistance in all its military arms and factions is united in this struggle and will speak loudly, as we cannot accept the situation as it is… all fronts must open fire on the enemy,” Hamas said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid was due to hold talks with Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Friday evening.
“The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organisations to set the agenda in the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel. The security forces will act against the Islamic Jihad terrorists to remove the threat,” Lapid said.
Islamic Jihad is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States.