TEL AVIV — A rocket fell near West Jerusalem on Sunday after Israeli forces killed the second top commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in three days.
Khaled Mansour was killed in an airstrike in southern Gaza on Saturday night, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement on Sunday. It added that two other agents, including Mansour’s deputy, were also killed.
The Quds Force, an armed wing of Iran-backed Islamic Jihad, later confirmed his death in a statement, saying it would “ignite the battle to defend Jerusalem”. The statement added that two of its other members, Ziyad Ahmad al-Mudallal and Raafat Saleh Sheikh al-Eid, were also killed.
It was the second such targeted attack since Israel launched a high-stakes military offensive against the militant group on Friday. Both Israel and the militant group confirmed that Tesser Jabari, a senior commander of the Islamic Jihad group’s northern Gaza unit, was also killed on Friday.
Five civilians were also killed on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 31 since the Israeli offensive on Friday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Six children and four women were among the dead, it said, adding that more than 250 people were injured.
At least four children were killed after a rocket fired from Gaza hit a Palestinian home in the Jabaliya refugee camp, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement Saturday. The health ministry said six people had died in Jabaliya.
Israeli Prime Minister Yar Rapid said in a statement on Sunday that the operation would continue “as necessary”, adding that his military was acting in a “precise and responsible manner” against civilians. Minimal damage.
The latest round of violence is seen by some as a touchstone for Lapid, who took over as caretaker prime minister in June after the fall of his predecessor Naftali Bennett’s eight-party coalition. The next election is scheduled for November.
Lapid made the remarks as air raid sirens sounded in the Jerusalem area for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war last year.
In a separate press release on Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces said more than 97 percent of the rockets launched had been shot down by the Iron Dome air defense system.
So far, Hamas, which rules Gaza, appears to have been on the sidelines of the current conflict. But it did pay tribute to Mansour in a statement on Sunday, calling him and other dead Islamic Jihad members “martyrs”.
Hamas is larger than Islamic Jihad, but they share many key demands and ideologies, including a refusal to recognize the existence of the state of Israel.
Over the past 15 years, Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller battles. Hamas has a strong incentive to avoid another war, as last year’s conflict took a staggering toll on the impoverished region’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents.
Since the last war, Israel and Hamas have reached a tacit understanding based on a calm in exchange for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas occupied territory 15 years ago.
Elsewhere, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated U.S. support for Israel and its right to self-defense in a phone call with Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Gantz on Saturday, while urging detente. He also said he was concerned by reports of civilian deaths and called for a “prompt and thorough” investigation.
Paul Goldman reported from Tel Aviv, and Mithil Aggarwal from Hong Kong.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed.