Israel launches major attack in Gaza, assassinates top commander, rockets fired at central Israel

Images are being shown on Israeli television of smoke emanating from a number of locations in Gaza struck by the IDF.

By Gil Tannenbaum, TPS and WIN Staff

On Friday afternoon, the IDF launched Operation Breaking Dawn against the Islamic Jihad terrorist operations based in Gaza.

The assault began with an attack by the Israel Air Force on buildings known to be used by Islamic Jihad.

The IDF confirmed that the head of Islamic Jihad’s military wing in northern Gaza Tisir Jabari has been killed.

The assault comes after a number of days in a row in which the organization made multiple threats to attack targets in Israel.

Images are being shown at this time on Israeli television news broadcasts of smoke emanating from a number of locations in Gaza said to have been struck by the IAF.

Sirens blared as dozens of rockets were fired at Israeli cities in the south and then towards Holon, Rishon Lezion and Bat Yam in the center of the country. Most of the rockets fired at Israeli population centers were destroyed by Israel’s Iron Dome defense.

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live within 50 miles of Gaza have been ordered to remain in their homes within close proximity to bomb shelters. The IDF has called up 25,000 reserves to assist in the military effort.

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This attack comes after several days of preparations in which the areas around Gaza were closed off to any non-residents and the IDF announced an increase in its presence in the area.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared that “terrorist organizations will not set the agenda in the area adjacent to Gaza, we will not tolerate any threat against our civilians. I thank Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the IDF and its commanders led by Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, and the ISA led by Ronen Bar, for the quality of their intelligence and for their precise execution,” INN reported.

“At the same time, we won’t accept any ultimatums regarding the operations of the IDF and the security forces – including on other fronts. Everyone who needs to be arrested – will be arrested. Any attempt to harm civilians or soldiers will be met with a harsh response,” said Lapid.

“Today’s activity in Gaza was against concrete threats which disrupted daily routine in southern Israel. Israel isn’t interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either.
Islamic Jihad took credit for a spree of terrorist attacks during the spring that took the lives of numerous innocent Israeli civilians. These attacks included terrorists randomly shooting automatic weapons in the streets of several Israeli cities.

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a situation assessment at IDF Southern Command HQ just a few hours before the new operation began.

Gantz said that the meeting was held so that the security leadership could, “prepare the actions that will remove the threat on this region, in accordance with the operational considerations of the State of Israel.”

He declared that Israel’s mission is to ensure that the tension ceases and that routine returns.

“To our enemies, and specifically to the leadership of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” said Gantz, “I would like to emphasize: your time is up. The threat [on this region] will be removed one way or another.”

The Defense Minister also blamed the terrorist organizations for holding the people of Gaza hostage.

“The IDF, ISA and all security forces are preparing for any action that may be taken on any front – in Israel’s northern, central or southern regions,” added Gantz. W”e are continuing operational activities in all arenas, as needed.”

Gantz also promised the international community that Israel will operate in a responsible and restrained manner, “from a place of strength. We will operate with internal resilience and external strength in order to restore routine life in Israel’s south.”

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“We do not seek conflict, yet we will not hesitate to defend our citizens, if required,” he declared.

“The State of Israel and the IDF will continue its operations, knowing the responsibility we bear on our shoulders – to defend the communities and citizens of Israel’s south. And to defend the citizens of the entire State of Israel.”

Minister Gantz is now at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv.