Israel strikes Gaza Strip in response to rocket barrage following Khader Adnan’s death
Israeli military conducted strikes on the Gaza Strip late Tuesday after Islamic Jihad militants there fired rockets toward Israel following the death of a prominent Palestinian activist in an Israeli prison.
The exchange of fire came after former Islamic Jihad spokesman Khader Adnan died in Israeli custody on Tuesday following an 87-day hunger strike.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza into the early hours of Wednesday, and in response, its fighter jets struck a military post, weapon storage, weapon manufacturing sites, and a training facility belonging to Hamas – the militant group that runs Gaza – along with a cement manufacturing site used by the group to maintain its infrastructure.
The Israeli military said 104 rockets were launched from Gaza, including 24 that were intercepted by Israel and 48 that fell in open areas. The IDF said it hit 16 targets in Gaza, saying “we attacked everything we wanted tonight.”
Sirens sounded into the early hours of Wednesday morning in Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and rockets could be heard and seen being launched from the coastal enclave, according to CNN’s team in Jerusalem and Gaza.
“The strike was carried out in response to the rocket launches from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory earlier today, this strike significantly harms the capabilities and prevents further weapon acquisition capabilities of the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip,” the IDF said.
On Wednesday morning, Islamic Jihad announced that “a round of confrontations” had ended with Israel, according to the group’s spokesperson Tariq Salmi.
“One round of confrontation has ended, but the march of resistance continues and will not stop,” Salmi, said in a statement. “Our brave fighters have proven their loyalty and commitment to defending their people.”
Mediators from Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations intervened to broker a return to calm from 4 am (01:00 GMT), sources in Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Palestinian officials said.
The Israeli army announced a “complete return to routine” on Wednesday in areas near Gaza.
Israeli military spokesperson Richard Hecht said there was no official ceasefire with Hamas but “messages have been passed.”
Earlier, the Israeli military said that after an assessment of the situation, “and following the directives of the Home Front Command, it was decided to return to the normal routine fully.”
Adnan, 45, had been on hunger strike since his arrest on February 5 and was found dead in his cell on Tuesday, according to the Israeli Prison Service.
Adnan had been detained at least 11 times since 2004 and his repeated arrests and prolonged hunger strikes had made him a symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israeli detention policies.
His death sparked anger in the West Bank, with protests, a general strike and other Palestinian detainees staging a hunger strike.
The IDF said the Israeli military would hold Hamas responsible for “all terror activities emanating from the Gaza Strip and it will face the consequences of the security.”
On Wednesday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said a 58-year-old Palestinian man was killed and five others injured in Gaza during the overnight hostilities.
Earlier Tuesday in the Israeli city of Sderot, three people were wounded by shrapnel, with one man suffering serious injuries, emergency services said.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has been in touch with Egypt, Qatar and the UN about the strikes, according to a Hamas statement early Wednesday morning.
“Haniyeh holds the occupation responsible for the consequences of continuing this brutal aggression,” the statement read.
Adnan is at least the seventh Palestinian detainee to die on hunger strike in an Israeli prison since 1970, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society told CNN.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accused Israel of carrying out a “deliberate assassination... by refusing his request to release him, neglecting him medically and keeping him in his cell despite the seriousness of his health condition.”
Israel has not yet returned Adnan’s body to his family, his lawyer Jamil Al Khatib told CNN by phone. His family has requested that there should not be an autopsy and that the body be given to the family for burial, the lawyer added.
Adnan’s widow pleaded for non-violence in the wake of his death.
“Not a drop of blood was spilled during the prisoner’s previous hunger strikes, and today we say with the rise of the martyr and his accomplishment of what he wished for, we do not want a drop of blood to be spilled,” Randa Musa said, adding that it was too late for arms to help him.