Israel renews Gaza bombing after killing 13 Palestinians
Local media reported that an air raid targeted a vehicle in Qarara town in Khan Yunis near the eastern fence separating Gaza and Israel, resulting in two additional fatalities, bringing the day's total death toll to 15.
The Israeli military said that the strike targeted an anti-tank guided missile cell. The attack followed several raids by the Israeli military in Gaza, which began shortly after 2am local time and killed at least four children, five women, and three Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commanders.
Another 22 people were wounded in the morning raid, including three children and seven women, some of whom are in a serious and critical condition.
In response, the Joint Operations Room (JOR), an umbrella body of armed factions in Gaza, including Hamas and PIJ, issued a statement warning that Israel "will pay the price" for the raids.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Israelis living in cities near the Gaza border have evacuated to other parts of the country, anticipating reprisal attacks. Bomb shelters have been opened, and roads and beaches have been closed.
Netanyahu said that he had ordered the targeting of the Islamic Jihad leaders following last week's rocket fire, and that Israel "prepared for any possibility".
Palestinian armed groups had fired rockets towards Israel following the death of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan in an Israeli prison following nearly three months of hunger strike. A brief exchange of fire ensued, leaving one Palestinian killed and two Israelis wounded.
The Islamic Jihad is considered the second-largest armed group in the Gaza Strip behind Hamas, which governs the enclave.
The group said in a statement that a response to the Israeli aggression "will not take long".
Tuesday's air strikes were the largest attack mounted by Israel against Gaza since August last year, when the military assassinated senior PIJ commander Taiseer al-Jabari, triggering a three-day exchange of fire.
At least 49 Palestinians were killed in the 2022 Israeli bombardment, including 17 children, and 360 others were wounded.