The heavy Israeli bombardment on Gaza strip, the most violent skirmish since May 2021, which according to Gaza's health ministry resulted in 44 fatalities, including 15 children, and 360 injuries in the enclave, came to a standstill late Sunday by a truce which was meditated mediated by Egypt.
Since 2008, Israel has launched four offensives on the Palestinian territory, killing nearly 4,000 people – one-quarter of them children. The truce between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad was reportedly violated after minutes it came to effect, however, since then there was no reported exchange of fire between the two parties.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the airstrikes began in a bid to eliminate key members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an organisation that was established in 1981 by two Palestinian activists Abd Al Aziz Awda and Fathi Shaqaqi. The outfit seeks to build an independent and Islamic state of Palestine with borders dating back to 1948, the year Israel was founded. The smaller of the two main Palestinian organisations in the Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad, is considerably outnumbered by Hamas which controls the territory.
Skirmishes between Israel and Palestinian groups have been rampant. Some of the major flare-ups were:
January 25, 2006 - In a Palestinian legislative election, the Islamist faction Hamas obtains a majority of seats. Because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognise Israel, Israel and the US shut off aid to Palestinians.
June 25, 2006 - In a cross-border attack from Gaza, Hamas militants abduct Israeli army conscript Gilad Shalit, sparking Israeli air strikes and invasions. Shalit is finally released in a prisoner exchange five years later.
June 14, 2007 - In a brief civil unrest, Hamas seizes control of Gaza, deposing Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is stationed in the West Bank.
December 27, 2008 - Israel launched a 22-day military offensive in Gaza in response to alleged Palestinian rocket attacks on the Israeli town of Sderot. Approximately 1,400 Palestinians were slain.
November 14, 2012 – The alleged kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths by Hamas sparks a seven-week battle in Gaza, killing over 2,100 Palestinians as well as 73 Israelis, including 67 IDF.
August-July 2014 - The kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths by Hamas sparks a seven-week battle in Gaza, killing over 2,100 Palestinians as well as 73 Israelis, including 67 IDF.
March 2018 - Protests begin along Gaza's walled border with Israel, as Israeli troops open fire to keep them at bay. More than 170 Palestinians have been slain in months of rallies, sparking clashes between Hamas and Israeli police.
May 2021 - Hundreds of Palestinians are injured by Israeli security forces at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem after weeks of unrest during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Hamas asked that Israel remove its security forces from the compound. In reaction to what it claimed were rockets fired from Gaza, Israel began air attacks. At least 260 individuals were murdered in Gaza and 13 in Israel during the 11-day conflict.
The Operation Breaking Dawn
The IDF began Operation Breaking Dawn with air raids on the Gaza strip on Friday, August 5, and claimed the successful elimination of PIJ Commander Khaled Mansour and the senior commander Tayseer Jabari.
Although IDF strongly maintains that the air raids were retaliatory in nature, and were carried out only after the PIJ fired rockets into Israeli territory, Gazans allege that the bloodbath was started by the IDF bombings.
Sameh Naim, an activist based in northern Gaza tells Outlook, “The Israeli warplanes deliberately targeted civilian populations.”
“At least 15 children died in the airstrikes, and most of them were just playing in the streets,” Naim adds.
Naim tells Outlook that a neighbourhood nearby where he lives was bombed and at least 15 people were injured in the airstrike, and a 5-year-old girl was also killed.
“They became homeless, their houses were reduced to rubble,” Naim says, adding, “there is no electricity, no proper food or shelter, where will all the victim families go?”
Excess and disproportionate force
Badee Dwaik, founder and president of Human Rights Defenders Group in Palestine, informed Outlook that “It were the Israeli airstrikes that provoked PIJ and then the latter fired rockets from Gaza strip.”
“However,” Dwaik says, “the rockets that are often shot into the Israeli territory are not very advanced, and most of them are often homemade.”
“But, Israel comes down with warplanes and wreaks havoc over Gazans, razes their homes and kills many,” he says.
Dwaik tells Outlook that Gaza has been living through the worst of the times and its economy is beyond vulnerable and Israeli air raids makes things even worse.
“There’s no electricity, no food, no medical amenities and supplies in Gaza’s Hospitals,” Dwaik says, adding, “Gaza has been reduced to a mere slaughterhouse.”
According to Israel, out of 44 Palestinians, who were murdered, at least 14 of them were killed by “misfired Islamic Jihad rockets”. Israel further stated that 20 fighters and seven civilians were killed in Israeli attacks and that six deaths were being investigated.
“We only hope the cease-fire holds long, we are fatigued by the carnage from the sky,” says Naim.