GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) — The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said an Israeli airstrike on Saturday night killed its top commander in the southern Gaza Strip, a day after Israel killed an Iranian-backed airstrike. The group’s commander in northern Gaza. sparked the worst cross-border clashes between Israeli and Palestinian militants since the 11-day war ended in 2021.
The Islamic Jihad group’s Jihad Brigade confirmed on Sunday that an airstrike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah had killed commander Khalid Mansour and two militants. Five other civilians, including a child and three women, were also killed in airstrikes that leveled several homes in Rafah, it said.
On Saturday night, Gaza’s health ministry said 24 people had been killed on the coast so far, including six children. The number is unlikely to include all those killed in the Rafah airstrike, as civil defence rescuers are still searching for bodies and survivors under the rubble.
Two of the Islamic Jihad’s top commanders and several other militants have been killed. Israel estimates its airstrikes have killed around 15 militants.
Islamic Jihad militants continued to fire rockets into Israel, and Israeli forces continued airstrikes in Gaza, although the intensity of the fighting in the early hours of Sunday dwindled.
The fighting began when Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in a wave of strikes on Friday that Israel said was an attempt to prevent an imminent attack.
Hamas, the larger militant group that rules Gaza, appears to remain on the brink of conflict for now, making its response limited.Israel and Hamas fought a war only a year ago, one of four major conflicts and several smaller battles that have caused staggering casualties in the past 15 years 2 million Palestinian residents in impoverished areas.
Whether Hamas remains on the sidelines depends in part on how much punishment Israel imposes on Gaza as the rockets continue to be fired.
A erroneous rocket fired by Palestinian militants killed civilians, including children, in the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya late Saturday, the Israeli military said. The military said it investigated the incident and concluded “without question” that it was caused by the Islamic Jihad fire. Palestine has made no official comment on the incident.
A Palestinian medic, who was not authorized to brief the media on condition of anonymity, said the blast killed at least six people, including three children.
An Israeli airstrike on Saturday killed a 75-year-old woman and wounded six others as they prepared to attend a wedding. The airstrikes also destroyed several homes in the Gaza Strip, some belonging to members of Islamic Jihad.
Gaza’s only power plant was shut down at noon Saturday due to a lack of fuel. Israel has closed its border crossings into Gaza since Tuesday. With the new outages, Gazans are limited to four hours of electricity a day, increasing their reliance on private generators and deepening the region’s long-running power crisis during the peak summer heat.