Israeli jets pounded militant targets in Gaza early Saturday as rockets rained on southern Israel, hours after a wave of Israeli airstrikes on the coastal enclave killed at least 11 people, including a senior militant and a 5-year-old girl.
The fighting that began Friday with Israel’s dramatic targeted killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad continued throughout the night, drawing the sides closer to an all-out war.
But the territory’s Hamas rulers appeared to stay on the sidelines of the conflict, keeping its intensity somewhat contained, for now. Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and several smaller battles over the last 15 years at a staggering cost to the territory’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
The latest round of Israel-Gaza violence was sparked by the arrest this week of a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank, part of a monthlong Israeli military operation in the territory. Citing a security threat, Israel then sealed roads around the Gaza Strip and on Friday killed the militant leader in a targeted strike.