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Israeli Strikes Kill 9 In Gaza, Islamic Jihad Vows Response

PARIS, France - Israeli airstrikes hit target across Gaza on Friday, killing a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement and prompting vows of retaliation from the militant group, which said it could hit Tel Aviv in response.

Local health official said at least nine people, including a five - year old child, had been killed and 44 wounded in the strikes, which came after days of escalating tensions following the arrest of a Palestinian militant leader during the week.

An Israeli spokesperson said the the military estimated it had killed around 15 'terrorists' but said it did not have a final casualty total.

'The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is currently striking in the Gaza Strip. A special situation has been declared on the Israeli home front', the military said in a statement.

Israel's Army Radio reported that Israel was calling up military reservists for the region near Gaza, which has been ruled by the militant Hamas movement since 2007.

An Islamic Jihad official confirmed that Tayseer al - Jaabri, whom the Israeli military described as the main coordinator between Islamic Jihad and Hamas, had been killed in the strikes, which hit several targets around the densely populated strip.

Smoke rose from a building where al - Jaabari was apparently killed and glass and rubble were strewn across the street amid the sound of ambulances racing to other sites.

As mourners prepared to hold funerals those killed in the attacks, hundreds of people, some holding Palestinian flags, marched through the street of Gaza.

The strikes came after Israel arrested Bassam al - Saadi, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad group, during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin earlier this week.

It subsequently closed off all Gaza crossings and some nearby roads over fears of retaliatory attacks from the group, which has stronghold in Gaza, further restricting Palestinian movement.

'The goal of this operation is the elimination of a concrete threat against the citizens of Israel and the civilians living adjacent to the Gaza Strip', Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.



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