Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had a telephone conversation with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin on Friday evening to brief him on the objectives and progress of the ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip, dubbed “Operation Breaking Dawn “. While the IDF claims to have eliminated high-ranking terrorists, Palestinian officials say dozens of civilians have been killed or injured.
“Minister Gantz stressed that the State of Israel is committed to defending its citizens and will operate decisively and with the greatest possible precision against terrorists and infrastructure in order to achieve its objectives,” Gantz’s office said in a statement about the call.
Israeli jets struck a building in Gaza earlier on Friday, killing Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Taysir al-Jabari, while 10 to 20 other PIJ members were targeted with missiles and artillery.
Palestinian officials say at least 10 civilians were killed in the strikes, including a five-year-old girl. 55 others were injured.
In retaliation, Palestinian militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel, warning that a wider offensive would follow. Air raid sirens could be heard in southern Israel for hours as air defenses were activated to intercept incoming projectiles.
Gantz previously announced that he had authorized the recall of some 25,000 reservists, while IDF spokesman Ron Kochav told Channel 12 the operation against the PIJ would be “take a while.” In his own address to the nation on Friday night, Prime Minister Yair Lapid used similar terms, saying the battle “Will take as long as it takes.”
“Israel will not stand idly by when there are those who try to harm its civilians,” Lapid said. “This government has a policy of zero tolerance for any attempted attack – of any kind – from Gaza into Israeli territory.”
The latest escalation began when Israeli forces arrested PIJ leader in the West Bank, Bassem Saadi, in the city of Jenin on Monday. A Palestinian teenager was killed in the raid on Saadi’s house, sparking an outcry in the Palestinian territories. As the PIJ placed its fighters on high alert, Israeli officials repeatedly warned this week of impending revenge attacks.