Israeli troops launched a wave of air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, continuing a three-day series of mass attacks aimed at taking out top commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group. group.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have operation called “Shield and Arrow” and it was started on Tuesday in retaliation for the recent Islamic Jihad rocket attacks.
IDF officials on Wednesday night said that the operation killed Ali Ghalithe commander of Islamic Jihad’s rocket launching force, along with two other top leaders of the militant group it claimed was responsible for the rocket strikes.
The latest wave of strikes in Israel has alarmed human rights groups over civilian deaths and injuries.
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, a group dedicated to documenting abuses in the Gaza Strip, said 25 civilians have been killed so far, including six children and four women, while 76 people have been injured. .
Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants responded to the IDF’s mass air strike with rocket attacks, further escalating the situation. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defense systems.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a militant group formed in 1981 that advocates for a free Palestinian state in the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The US is trying to walk a fine line between supporting Israel, its most important partner in the Middle East, and supporting a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.
On Thursday, the US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides Tweet he was “concerned about the ongoing rocket launch today.”
“We stand by Israel’s right to defend itself,” he wrote. “Working towards a quick de-escalation.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoava Gallant this week following the Islamic Jihad rocket attacks.
“Austin emphasized his continued support for Israel’s right to protect its people” while urging a broader goal of de-escalation, according to a readout of the call.
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