Israel-Islamic Jihad Fighting Kills 44 Gazans, Palestinian Health Ministry Says

Israel claims that some of the deaths, including those of eight children and teenagers out of 15 killed overall, were due to failed Islamic Jihad rocket launches and not Israeli strikes

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Mourners attend the funeral of senior commander of Islamic Jihad militant group Khaled Mansour and other Palestinians, who were killed in Israeli air strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday.
Mourners attend the funeral of senior commander of Islamic Jihad militant group Khaled Mansour and other Palestinians, who were killed in Israeli air strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday.Credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

Forty-four Gazans, including 15 children, were killed in the latest round of violence between Israel and Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported on Sunday.

Days of war: Understanding this weekend's Israel-Gaza flare-up

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Israel claims that some of the strikes, including two that killed eight children and teens, were in fact failed attempts by the Islamic Jihad to launch rockets at Israel, hitting inside the Hamas-controlled enclave instead.

Early on Sunday, Palestinian media reported that an Israeli strike hit a house in the Jabalya area in the northern Gaza Strip, killing two, including one who was attempting to attend to the wounded.

Israel's Defense Ministry said on Sunday that mortars fired from Gaza struck the Erez border crossing into Israel, used by thousands of Gazans a day. The mortars damaged the roof and shrapnel hit the hall's entrance, the ministry said. The crossing has been closed amid the fighting.

Israel has said it took action against the militant group because of concrete threats of an imminent attack, but has not provided details.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid unleashed the offensive by killing a senior Islamic Jihad commander in a wave of strikes on Friday, less than three months before a general election in which he is campaigning to keep the job.

In a statement Sunday, Lapid said the military would continue to strike targets in Gaza “in a pinpoint and responsible way in order to reduce to a minimum the harm to noncombatants.”

“The operation will continue as long as necessary,” Lapid said.
Israel estimates its airstrikes have killed about 15 militants.

Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its weapons arsenal. Both groups call for Israel's destruction, but have different priorities, with Hamas constrained by the demands of governing.

The Israeli army said militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets toward Israel. The army said its air defenses had intercepted many of them, with two of those shot down being fired toward Jerusalem.

Air raid sirens sounded in the Jerusalem area for the first time Sunday since last year’s Israel-Hamas war. Jerusalem is typically a flash point during periods of cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza. On Sunday, hundreds of Jews, including firebrand ultra-nationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, visited a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The visit, under heavy police protection, ended without incident, police said.

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