Israel-Gaza conflict: What’s going on right now

Tensions came to a breaking point days after Israeli forces arrested one of Islamic Jihad's top leaders in the West Bank.
Rockets fired by fighters from Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the west Gaza City. (Photo by Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A cease fire is currently in place after 3 days of fighting between Israel and the Gaza-based terrorist group Islamic Jihad.

Tensions came to a breaking point days after Israeli forces arrested one of the group’s top leaders in the West Bank earlier this month.

Between Friday night, when Israel preemptively launched Operation Breaking Dawn, and Sunday night, more than 1,100 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, with more than 200 of them falling short of the border.

Who is Islamic Jihad?

A view from the parade and ceremony organized by Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad in Gaza City, Gaza on May 29, 2021. (Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The West Bank Islamic Jihad commander Bassam al-Saadi was arrested by IDF troops in the Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday, August 2nd, in a heavy exchange of gunfire. Tensions immediately escalated along the Gaza Strip following the arrest prompting Israel to shut down its border crossing to establish a security corridor along the border.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad, known simply as Islamic Jihad, is an Iran-backed terrorist group founded in 1981. Its goal is to see to the destruction of the Jewish state through armed conflict. It has carried out numerous deadly high level attacks in Israel including bombings and ambushes. For example, in March of 1996 it bombed the Tel Aviv shopping mall killing 20 people and in April of 2003 it bombed an Israeli restaurant killing 23.

The organization has its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood and was originally founded by students at the Islamic University of Gaza as a sister organisation to Hamas. While primarily based in the Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad also has a presence in the West Bank.

During the fighting several top level Islamic Jihad commanders were killed in airstrikes, including Khaled Mansour, a senior commander. Several arrests also happened in the West Bank during the campaign.

Casualties

A view of destruction after Israeli attack on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on August 7, 2022. At least seven people were killed in an Israeli attack on Rafah, local authorities said on Sunday. (Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

About 40 people in Gaza have been killed in the fighting. Getting accurate civilian casualty numbers in Gaza is very difficult because the Gaza Health Ministry is controlled by Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Hamas does not allow journalists to independently verify the numbers they release and, according to the Associated Press, “the Gaza Health Ministry does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians.” The organization also does not clarify who was killed by who, i.e. by friendly fire or accidents.

In one incident at least 4 children were killed in an explosion at the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. There has been no official Palestinian comment on the incident but Israeli officials say that the explosion was caused by a failed rocket launch from the Gaza Strip.

“We have videos that prove beyond any doubt that this is not an Israeli attack. It has been unequivocally proven that it was a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch,” an Israeli official told The Times of Israel.

The IDF then released video footage of the alleged misfiring saying they detected it on their radar systems, adding that the IDF did not conduct any airstrikes in the area at the time of the blast.

The IDF said that as of Sunday morning they’ve targeted 140 Islamic Jihad members, including senior and anti-tank missile operatives.

Rockets

Air raid sirens blared nearly non-stop Friday evening till 11:30 p.m. Sunday night along the border areas of Israel and the Gaza Strip. Sirens were also been activated in Tel Aviv, a city of 432,892, and just outside of Jerusalem, which is home to 801,000 people. 

Nearly 1,100 rockets have been fired since the conflict began, with more than 200 falling short of the border. Of those who made it into Israel the Iron Dome was able to intercept 97% of the launches.

Peace process

Fighters from the Saraya al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement with weapons pose with rockets during the parade on the streets of Gaza City. (Photo by Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Egypt mediated the ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad which went into effect Sunday night at 11:30. Islamic Jihad reportedly rejected a similar proposal on Saturday, with a source from the terror group telling the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV that “now is the time to respond to the crimes of the occupation.”

Islamic Jihad also said it would “not let their blood dry before they bombard the settlements of the enemy.”