ISRAELL has killed more than 15 people in an airstrike, including a senior militant commander and a five-year-old girl.
In retaliation, the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said it fired more than 100 rockets into Israel, triggering warnings of airstrikes in the south and center of the country.
An explosion was heard in Gaza City, where smoke poured from the seventh floor of a high-rise building Friday afternoon.
In a nationally televised address Friday night, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said his country launched the attacks on the basis of concrete threats.
“This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks of any kind from Gaza into Israeli territory,” he said.
“Israel will not stand idly by when people try to harm its citizens.
“Our struggle is not with the people of Gaza. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis.”
The Palestinian health ministry said a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were among the dead and another 55 were injured.
Islamic Jihad said Taiser al-Jabari, the commander of northern Gaza, was among the dead.
He succeeded another militant who was killed in an airstrike in 2019.
Islamic Jihad is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States.
Smoke billowed from a building where al-Jaabari had apparently died, and glass and debris littered the street amid the sound of ambulances racing to other locations.
Hundreds marched in a funeral procession for him and others who were killed, with many of the mourners waving Palestinian flags and banners of Islamic Jihad as they called for revenge.
Israeli media showed the skies over southern and central Israel lit up with missiles and interceptors from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
An explosion was heard in Tel Aviv, but it was not immediately clear how many rockets were launched and there was no immediate information about any casualties on the Israeli side.
Israel continued to attack other targets, including weapons production facilities and Islamic Jihad positions.
The attacks come four days after Israel closed its two border crossings with Gaza and restricted the movement of Israeli civilians living near the border, citing security concerns.
The measures follow the arrest in the occupied West Bank of two senior members of Islamic Jihad, which has a strong presence in Gaza.
The militant Hamas rulers of Israel and Gaza have fought four wars and several minor battles over the past 15 years at significant cost to the area’s 2 million Palestinian residents.