Israel has claimed an airstrike has killed the top commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants with swift retaliation promised against Tel Aviv.
Local health officials said at least nine people, including a five-year old girl, 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 Islamic Jihad official confirmed that Tayseer al-Jaabari, 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.
Israeli authorities issued warnings of rocket strikes against Israeli cities on Friday, and said sirens had been sounded in central and southern areas.
An Israeli spokesperson said 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.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Israel would not allow “terrorist organisations to set the agenda”.
“Let anyone who rises up to harm Israel know that we will get to them. Our security forces will act against Islamic Jihad terrorists to remove the threat from the citizens of Israel,” he said.