Gaza Flare-up: Islamic Jihad Announces Cease-fire With Israel After a Night of Fighting

Safety restrictions lifted for Israelis living near Gaza border after air force pounds Strip, rockets launched at south ■ Six Palestinians said killed by live Israeli fire at protests prior to overnight strikes ■ Iron Dome intercepts 15 rockets ■ IDF: Iran behind rocket attacks

IDF strikes Gaza, October 27, 2018.
MOHAMMED SALEM/Reuters

The Islamic Jihad announced Saturday that a cease-fire has been reached with Israel after a night of fighting. The Israel Defense Forces struck targets in Gaza overnight Friday, as a slew of rockets were fired in Israel's south. Five Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire earlier Friday in Gaza border protests, and another in the West Bank. 

The cease-fire was brokered through Egypt, Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shihab said. The Israel Air Force said it struck 95 targets Friday and Saturday, including 87 Hamas targets and eight Islamic Jihad. Thirty-six rockets were launched at Israel's south.

According to an IDF spokesperson, dozens of fighter jets and other IDF aircrafts carried out the strikes in Gaza. Among the sites attacked were two major weapons manufacturing locations and five military compounds, as well as a building that serves Hamas' general security forces in Gaza City, according to the IDF. 

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The fighting continued Saturday, with the IDF attacking 8 Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, six rockets launched at Israel and five intercepted. In total, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 15 rockets fired into Israel's south over the weekend, the military said. The Air Force recommenced bombing the northern Gaza Strip Saturday.

The IDF spokesperson said Saturday that the Islamic Jihad organization was responsible for the rockets, under guidance from Iran.

The Palestinians killed at the border between Israel and Gaza Friday were named as 27-year-old Muhammad Khaled 'Abd al-Nabi; 22-year-old Ahmed Said Abu Libdah; 23-year-old Aish Sha'ath; 22-year-old Naser Abu Thayem. In addition, 23-year-old Mujahed Ziyad 'Akel succumbed to his wounds Saturday morning.

Fourteen different alarm sirens were activated throughout the night Friday and on Saturday in Israel's southern communities, including the cities of Sderot and in the Eshkol Regional Council near the Gaza border. 

IDF strike on 4-story building in Gaza, October 27, 2018IDF Spokesperson's Office

The IDF reported that it had attacked a 4-story building that served as Hamas' general security forces headquarters in Gaza City. The IDF said it had warned the building's occupants several times to evacuate prior to the bombing. 

Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza toward Israel as seen from the city of Ashkelon, Israel, October 27, 2018.
Amir Cohen

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot held an emergency meeting with senior officials in response to the escalations. Safety instructions to residents of Israel's Gaza-bordered communities were issued, warning residents not to have gatherings of more than 100 people in an open area, and 500 in a closed area. 

The safety restrictions were lifted Saturday afternoon once the cease-fire was announced, although instructions on gatherings remained unchanged. 

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Seven people have been treated for shock trauma in Sderot according to a Magen David Adom spokesperson. A 53-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy were lightly injured after running for protection when sirens sounded.

Some residents reported hearing explosions, with some saying they witnessed interceptions by the Iron Dome. No damage or serious injuries have been reported. 

The sirens came hours after Palestinian authorities reported that six Palestinians had been killed by Israeli military fire – five in the weekly protests on the Israel-Gaza border and one in clashes in the West Bank.

"How low can the terrorist organization in Gaza go by harming the ambulance crossing at Erez?" Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, IDF coordinator of government activities in the territories, told Gaza residents Saturday, referring to Hamas.

The Erez crossing, situated along the northern part of the Strip, is used for the movement of people between the Strip and Israel.

"The terrorist organizations have no empathy for you, Gaza residents. They have no empathy for babies, for elderly people, for the sick patients among you. Terrorist organizations hurt you first and foremost," Abu Rokon wrote on COGAT's Arabic Facebook page.  

Israel has been criticized for not allowing critically ill patients from Gaza through the border for life-saving treatment.

Late on Wednesday night, the Israeli military struck eight Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an unpopulated area in Israel.

The previous week, a rocket launched from Gaza hit a house in the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, damaging it heavily. Another rocket landed in the sea near one of the major cities in Israel's largest metropolitan area.

In response the Israeli military said it struck 20 targets in Gaza, including a Hamas attack tunnel in the southern Strip. The assault "significantly damaged Hamas' capabilities," IDF Spokesman Ronen Manelis added. 

Eisenkot cut short his visit in the United States following the escalation on the southern border. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the closure of the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings into Gaza and a reduction in the permitted fishing zone off the coast of the enclave.