Israel launches new airstrikes on Gaza

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The Israeli military launched airstrikes in Gaza on Friday in what it described as a “dawn-breaking operation” targeting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group.

Video footage shows smoke rising from an apartment in the city of Gaza that was hit Friday afternoon.

The airstrikes came after several days of high tension between Israel and Gaza over the arrest of the PIJ leader in the West Bank earlier this week.

There were unconfirmed reports on Friday of casualties after the airstrike that allegedly targeted a high-ranking PIJ figure.

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Israel had closed roads around Gaza earlier this week and sent reinforcements to the border as it braced itself for a revenge attack following the arrest of a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group in the occupied West Bank on Monday.

Israel and the Hamas militant group have fought four wars and several minor skirmishes in the 15 years since it seized power from rival Palestinian forces.

‘We will not hesitate to defend our citizens’

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited communities near Gaza on Friday and said authorities were “preparing actions to remove the threat from this region” without elaborating further.

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“We will operate with internal resilience and external strength to restore routine life in southern Israel,” he said. “We are not seeking conflict, but we will not hesitate to defend our citizens, if necessary.”

The latest escalation began when Israeli forces arrested a high-ranking member of the Islamic Jihad militant group in the West Bank city of Jenin late Monday. A teenage member of the group was killed in a firefight between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants.

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Ahmed Mudalal, an Islamic Jihad official in Gaza, said the group had made demands on Israel through Egyptian mediators, including the release of the detained militant and another prisoner, an end to the raids on the West Bank and the lifting of the blockade of Gaza. He said he has not yet received a response.

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