Tensions are running high in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Friday, after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) targeted another top commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in an airstrike in Gaza.
Tayseer Jabari was the head of the terror group’s northern command in the strip. He replaced Bahaa Abu al-Ata, who was killed by the IDF in November 2019.
"The Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine and its military wing the Al-Quds Brigade mourn the great jihadist commander Tayseer al-Jabari 'Abu Mahmud', who was killed in a Zionist assassination in Gaza City," read a statement from the group.
Reports say that several other targets in the northern Gaza Strip were hit, and Palestinian sources indicated there were casualties. Israeli residents of southern communities near the border are asked to remain close to shelters.
The IDF released a video of the Gaza strike.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a joint statement with Defense Minister Benny Gantz: "The Israeli government will not allow terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to set the agenda in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel. Anyone who tries to harm Israel should know: we will find you."
"The security forces will act against Islamic Jihad terrorists to eliminate the threat they pose to the citizens of Israel," he continued.
"The goal is to protect the State of Israel and the citizens of Israel - we will not allow anyone to threaten or harm the citizens of Israel," Gantz said in the statement. "Whoever tries to do so - will get hurt."
The IDF crackdown on the Islamic Jihad now has an official name, Operation Breaking Dawn. It comes just days after another PIJ leader was arrested in a raid in the West Bank town of Jenin. Bassam al-Saadi, who previously served 15 years in Israeli prisons, was detained along with two other militants, including his son-in-law.
The Islamic Jihad has been threatening to attack Israel since Tuesday, in response to the arrest. Gantz warned the group that the country will take military action if they don't stop their threats.
Fearing retaliation against civilian population, the Israeli military has been on high alert around the Gaza border in the past few days. Access to roads skirting the strip was cut off since Monday and missile defense batteries were deployed to the south, nearby the border with Gaza.
In addition, Israeli security officials are warning that Sunday may see clashes around the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem and is bracing for potential escalation. That is when Jews will mark the Tisha B’Av fast day and mourn over the destruction of the two ancient Temples that were located in the area during biblical times.
The flashpoint site has seen thousands of Jewish pilgrims visit during the fast in recent years. Under the status-quo, Jews are only allowed to ascend the site during certain days and times of the week but are prohibited from performing religious rituals, such as praying and singing.
The latest intense round of intense fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in May 2021 lasted for 11 days. During IDF Operation Guardian of the Walls, both the Gaza Strip and the Temple Mount were focal points of deadly violence, as were mixed Israeli-Arab towns across the country.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.