Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli drones fired missiles at targets in Gaza, followed by fighter jets attacking sites.
Israel launched several air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, a day after nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, were killed in the Jenin camp of Israeli forces, in one of the deadliest raids in the occupied West Bank by the Israeli army in years.
Security sources in Gaza told Agence France-Presse that 15 raids were carried out in the early hours of Friday. Witnesses and local media reported that Israeli drones fired two missiles at targets in Gaza before the fighter jets hit, causing four large explosions.
Al Jazeera correspondent Maram Hamid said there was no immediate news of casualties, and “cautious calm” had returned to Gaza by morning.
The Israeli military said the air strikes on Gaza – one of the world’s most densely populated areas with a population of 2.1 million – came after two rockets were fired towards Israel around midnight (2200 GMT).
Sirens sounded in southern Israel, where the first two rockets were fired, and then again after the Israeli air strikes.
The Israeli military said the missiles were intercepted by Israel’s air defense system, and Israel’s Channel 12 broadcast footage of Israeli interceptor missiles being fired into the night sky over the city of Ashkelon, about 12 kilometers (7 miles) north of Gaza.
No party has claimed responsibility for the missile launch.
The Israeli air strikes and missiles followed the killing of nine people during a raid by Israeli forces on the Jenin refugee camp. At least 20 people were injured in what was described as one of the bloodiest days in the occupied West Bank since Israel intensified its raids at the beginning of 2021.
Israeli forces also shot a 22-year-old Palestinian in the town of Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem.
Four of the injured were in critical condition, and among the dead was an elderly woman identified by the Jenin hospital authorities as Majida Obaid.
The Obeid family said they were shot after looking out their window.
The Palestinians described the Jenin raid as a “massacre”.
People filled streets across the West Bank on Thursday in solidarity with Jenin as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Abbas cut off security coordination with Israel “in light of the repeated aggression against our people and the undermining of signed agreements.” He also said that the Palestinians intend to file complaints with the UN Security Council, the International Criminal Court and other international bodies about the Israeli violence.
Diplomats said the United Arab Emirates, China and France have asked the UN Security Council to meet behind closed doors on Friday about the attacks.
Tor Wiensland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said on Twitter that he was “deeply concerned” and “saddened” by the violence and that he was engaging with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to “de-escalate tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict”.
#United nations envoy @tweet:
Deeply disturbed and saddened by the ongoing cycle of violence. Essential to immediately reduce tensions and prevent further loss of life. Urges, and keeps busy with Compositions /, 🇮🇱 & 🇵🇸. To calm tensions, restore calm and avoid further conflict.
The full statement 👇 pic.twitter.com/KBIGcjnG7Q
– UNSCO (UNSCO_MEPP) January 26, 2023
Far-right Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir praised Israeli forces for the Jenin raid, saying that those who try to “harm our people should know that his blood was shed.”