In a statement on Sunday, Islamic Jihad confirmed that Khaled Mansour, its commander in the south of the Gaza Strip, had been killed in an Israeli raid on Saturday.
Mansour is the second high-ranking member of Islamic Jihad to be killed since Israel carried out airstrikes on Gaza on Friday when it assassinated Tayseer al-Jabari, a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad movement in the north.
Moreover, several children have been killed in the Gaza Strip as Israeli jets bombed the besieged enclave for a second day.
At least six children were killed in a blast in a residential area near the Jabaliya refugee camp north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday bringing the tally of children killed since Friday to eight. Among them are two brothers aged five and 11 in the Jabaliya refugee camp.
Medical sources in Gaza identified the two brothers killed in the Israeli assault as Moamen Al-Nayrab and Ahmed Al-Nayrab, with the Palestinian Health Ministry saying the regime’s brutal raid had since Friday left at least 34 people dead and 215 wounded.
“I can’t even put to words what I have just witnessed, I’m still shaking,” Ahamd Arafah, an eyewitness, said as he recounted the horrific scenes in an interview with the Middle East Eye.
“We were watching the news like everyone, then we heard screaming and went outside. I saw frightening scenes. Blood-covered children, body parts all over the street, people running around confused. It was literally a massacre. There are no other words to describe it. I’m still in shock at what I saw. They were just children. What is their crime?”
Tensions have soared across the coastal enclave and the occupied territories since Friday, when the Israeli regime carried out a massacre against the Gaza Strip, killing scores of people and hitting a series of what it said were military targets.
Palestinian authorities said that 650 housing units have been damaged in the first 24 hours of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, which has targeted several residential towers.
Israel stopped the planned transport of fuel into Gaza before it struck on Friday, crippling the territory’s lone power plant and reducing electricity to around eight hours per day, and drawing warnings from health officials that hospitals would be severely impacted within days.
In response to the brutal Israeli airstrikes, Palestinian resistance forces fired more than 400 rockets at Israel, setting off air raid sirens and sending settlers running to bomb shelters.
The Islamic Jihad called the retaliatory barrage only an “initial response” to the Israeli bloodbath, with the Palestinian resistance movement’s Secretary General Ziad al-Nakhalah saying the Israeli enemy must expect a “non-stop” confrontation in the wake of the aggression.
According to a report by Reuters Egypt said it was engaged in intensive talks to calm the situation.
An Egyptian intelligence delegation headed by Major General Ahmed Abdelkhaliq arrived in Israel on Saturday and would be traveling to Gaza for mediation talks, hoping to secure a day’s ceasefire in order to carry out the talks, the report citing unnamed Egyptian security sources added.
Israel said on Saturday it is preparing for its aerial operation in Gaza to last a week, saying there are currently no discussions on a ceasefire with Islamic Jihad. The military “is preparing for the operation to last week” and is “not currently holding ceasefire negotiations,” it said.
Last May, Gaza’s resistance groups fired around 4,000 rockets during the 11-day Operation Sword of al-Quds after the Israeli regime initiated the war, which marked the fourth wholesale military campaign by the occupying regime against the densely-populated Palestinian enclave.