The Israeli military carried out multiple rounds of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, claiming to target sites linked to the Hamas militant group. The operations follow clashes in the occupied West Bank earlier in the day, which left at least 11 Palestinians dead.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it launched strikes on a “weapons production site” and a “military compound” operated by Hamas early on Thursday morning, sharing footage of the sorties in a social media post.
תיעוד מתקיפות צה”ל הבוקר ברצועת עזה>> pic.twitter.com/wy2cLB80zB
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) February 23, 2023
So far, there have been no reports of casualties, though the Middle East Eye noted that “several houses” were damaged in the strikes. According to local media reports, the entrance of the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza was also hit.
The IDF claimed the mission was launched after rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza on Wednesday night, adding the projectiles were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The Islamic Jihad militant group took responsibility for the rockets, urging Palestinian “resistance forces” to retaliate to a bloody raid on the West Bank city of Nablus earlier this week.
Carried out on Wednesday, the Israeli raid killed 11 Palestinians, including several civilians in addition to gunmen, Reuters reported, citing armed groups and West Bank medical officials. Among the dead were a 14-year-old boy and a 72-year-old man, as well as another elderly man who later died in hospital due to inhaling gas during the raid. The Palestinian Health Ministry said more than 100 others were injured.
“It was very scary… We could hear the sounds of explosions and people screaming in the street, and many of us started crying and praying to God to protect the city and its residents,” Nablus native Nabeela Suliman told the Middle East Eye.
The IDF confirmed the West Bank operation on its Twitter page, saying it was carried out alongside the Shin Bet – Israel’s internal security service – and aimed at capturing three wanted persons allegedly behind recent “shooting attacks” in the area. It also posted photos and video footage taken during and after the raid.
סרטון מפעילות כוחות הביטחון בשכם>> pic.twitter.com/6QfsmQYe6m
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) February 22, 2023
A Nablus-based armed group dubbed ‘the Lions’ Den’ later posted on Telegram saying it had engaged Israeli troops in a firefight on Wednesday, while Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, issued a rare statement in response to the raid.
“The Palestinian resistance in Gaza is closely monitoring the Israeli occupation’s repeated crimes against the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and its patience is wearing thin,” said Hamas spokesman Abu Obaida.
This year has already seen several deadly operations carried out by the IDF, including a January raid on a refugee camp in Jenin which killed 9 Palestinians. A total of 62 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces so far in 2023, according to local officials, while Israel’s Foreign Ministry says 10 of its citizens have died in Palestinian attacks during the same period.