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Israeli forces have killed a top Islamic Jihad commander in an air raid on his home in Gaza City, unleashing a new spiral of violence.

Shortly after the attack on Tuesday morning that killed Bahaa Abu al-Ata and his wife, salvos of rockets were launched from Palestinian groups in the besieged Gaza Strip into  Israel.

In response to the rocket barrage, dozens of air raids were launched on Gaza. Overall, 18 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, according to health officials.

Separately, Syrian state media said a separate missile attack on Tuesday hit the home of Islamic Jihad official Akram al-Ajouri in Damascus, killing two people including one of his sons. Syria said Israel carried out the Damascus attack. Israel did not comment.

Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, November 13

Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli attacks

A spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said the “Israeli escalation” must immediately stop, Wafa news agency reported.

Abbas is exerting efforts to stop the escalation, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement.

He called on the international community to immediately intervene to pressure Israel to stop its “continued aggression”, and to respect international law, Wafa added.

Netanyahu warns Israel prepared to step up attacks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was prepared to keep bombarding Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza as long as rocket fire continued.

“They have one choice: to stop these attacks or absorb more and more blows. Their choice,” Netanyahu said in remarks made during a cabinet meeting.

18 Palestinians killed, over 50 wounded

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry, confirmed to Al Jazeera that at least 18 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air raids since the start of the latest escalation on Tuesday morning.

At least 50 others were wounded, he added, with injuries ranging from minor to moderate.

Palestinian youths look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip November 13, 2019. - Two Palestinians were killed i
Palestinian youths look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip [Said Khatib/AFP]

Three Palestinians killed in new Israeli air raid

Al-Qidra said three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli air raid that targeted central Gaza.

Israeli fighter jets bombarded a wood-working shop in al-Tuffah neighbourhood, killing the three Palestinians and wounding more than 20 others, Maan News Agency reported.

Two Palestinians killed in Israeli air raid

Al-Qidra said two more Palestinians were killed in an air raid.

The Islamic Jihad group said one of the two killed was a member of its group, identifying him as 38-year-old Khaled Faraj.

Palestinians gather around the remains of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Palestinians gather around the remains of a house destroyed in an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

The deaths bring the overall toll in Gaza to at least 12 Palestinians, including Abu al-Ata and his wife.

Palestinian factions fire rockets towards Israel

Palestinian factions launched rocket fire towards towards southern Israel.

It appeared that Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, was opting out of the fighting for now.

A diplomatic source told Reuters News Agency the United Nations Middle East envoy was on his way to Egypt’s Cairo to begin mediation efforts.

Gaza: Ministry of Education suspends classes

Israel-Gaza clashes escalate after Islamic Jihad commander killed

Universities in the Gaza Strip have suspended classes until further notice, Maan News Agency reported.

The Ministry of Education has also announced the suspension of classes in schools run by the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees across the enclave.

Air raids resume in Gaza Strip: local media

Israel has resumed bombardment of the Gaza Strip, according to local media reports.

Israeli fighter jets targetted various areas of the coastal enclave, including the city’s centre, as well as agricultural lands in the eastern part of the Strip, Maan News Agency said.

Tuesday, November 12

Three Palestinians killed in new Israeli raids

Israeli shelling of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip has killed at least three more Palestinians, bringing the death toll for the day to 10, according to the enclave’s health ministry.

More than 40 others were also wounded in the Palestinian enclave since the morning, the ministry reported.

Israel declares state of emergency near Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced a special state of emergency for 48 hours in areas within an 80 kilometers (650 miles) range surrounding Gaza.

Israel says 30 attacks carried out in Gaza

The Israeli army carried out at least 30 air raids and artillery attacks on several areas of the Gaza Strip, according to the government’s media office.

“More than 20 Israeli air strikes and 10 artillery shelling have been marked in different parts of the enclave since early Tuesday,” it said in a statement.

Targets included agricultural lands, residential buildings and a number of sites of Palestinian factions.

Full moon in Gaza
Full moon rises at the evening hours over Gaza City [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu]

Two Palestinians killed in new Israeli attack

Two more Palestinians were killed in an Israeli attack in the northern Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry said, after Israel said it targeted fighters preparing to fire rockets.

The deaths brought the Palestinian death toll for the day to seven, including Abu al-Ata and his wife, killed in a targeted Israeli air raid.

The Gaza Health Ministry said 45 others were also wounded in Israel’s military escalation.

Meanwhile, Israeli medics said they had treated 46 people, 21 of whom had “stress symptoms” related to rocket fire.

Israeli attacks leave 5 dead in GazaRelatives mourn over the dead body of 20-year-old youth Mohammed Atiyyah Hammouda, who was killed in an Israeli air raid, at the morgue of Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City [Ramez Habboub/Anadolu]

Jordan condemns Israeli targeted killing in Gaza

Jordan’s foreign ministry condemned an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip that killed top Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata

Daifallah al-Fayez, a spokesman for the Jordanian foreign ministry, blamed Israel for the ensuing escalation of violence in a statement.

Germany calls for end to violence

Germany condemned the bombardment of cities in Israel by rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, calling for de-escalation and saying there could be no justification for violence against innocent civilians.

“We condemn this rocket fire in the severest terms,” the German foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We call for restraint and for an end to the violence. We strongly support Egypt’s and the United Nations’ mediation efforts.”

Israeli attacks leave 5 dead in Gaza
People carry the dead body of 25-year-old Palestinian Zaki Mohammed Adnan Ghanama, who was killed in an Israeli air attack at the morgue of Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City [Ramez Habboub/Anadolu]

Egypt working to calm Israel-Gaza fighting

Egyptian officials said Cairo is attempting to de-escalate tensions in the Gaza Strip amid the worst bout of fighting there in recent months.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media, said Egypt’s general intelligence agency has stepped up communications and has “opened channels” with the US and the European Union.

Egypt often acts as a mediator between Israel and Palestinian factions, and brokered a ceasefire deal in May.

Analysis: ‘Neither side wants a full-scale war’

Yonah Jeremy Bob, an intelligence, terrorism and legal analyst for The Jerusalem Post, said neither Israel nor the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad “will actually want a full-scale war at this point”.

“If both sides operate according to some unwritten rule about not striking beyond a certain amount, probably after a few days things will settle down as has happened a few times over the last year,” he told Al Jazeera via Skype from Modiin in central Israel.

Palestinian wounded in Israeli attack dies: Gaza ministry

A Palestinian man wounded in an Israeli attack has died from his injuries, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

The health ministry in the Palestinian enclave identified the latest man killed as Ibrahim Al-Dabous, 26. It said he was hit in an attack on Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.

The latest casualty brought the toll to at least five people killed, including Abu al-Ata and his wife, with another 30 wounded since the morning, according to the Gazan health ministry.

Meanwhile, Israeli medics said they had treated 39 people.

Israeli forces kill top Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza air raid

Israel-Gaza border area ‘under lockdown’

The areas around the fringe of the border between Israel and Gaza are under a tight security lockdown, Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reported.

“We are unable to go any further than about five kilometres or so away from the border because of a police road closure,” Hawcett said, reporting from the Gaza border.

“The rocket fire still continues and so does the Israeli response. We heard and saw a rocket coming out from Gaza territory behind us heading north. It was intercepted by the Iron Dome in the skies overhead.

“We also heard Israeli warplanes overhead, so it seems another round of air attacks could well be under way over Gaza and inside Gaza.”

Tense waiting continues in southern Israel
Israeli security forces block a road after tension started to rise following the air attack of Israeli army, killing Bahaa Abu al-Atta [Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Anadolu]

Israel bombs Islamic Jihad targets

The Israeli military said it has carried out a number of air attacks in Gaza, bombing a series of Islamic Jihad targets.

It said the raids hit a training camp and underground weapons manufacturing and storage sites.

Palestinian man killed, three others wounded, in Israeli attack

A Palestinian man has been killed in a new Israeli strike in the northern Gaza Strip, the Gaza Health Ministry has said.

Zaki Mohammed Adnan Ghanameh, 25, was killed in an Israeli attack in Beit Lahia on Tuesday afternoon, according to ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra.

Three other Palestinians have been wounded, the ministry said.

Islamic Jihad commander among four killed in Israeli air raids

Netanyahu slammed by Arab MKs

Arab members of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of escalating the situation in the Gaza Strip for his political survival.

“The man who lost consecutive elections will leave the ground burned in a desperate attempt to stay in his position,” MK Ayman Odeh said on Twitter.

“For a decade, he [Netanyahu] worked every morning to prolong the occupation and undermine prospects for peace and this is what he did today as well.”

MK Walid Taha warned Netanyahu’s policy of escalation would drag the region into a “real disaster”.

“What is happening threatens the security of the entire region and the lives of millions of innocent people in Gaza Strip,” he said.”Israel is in danger as a result of Netanyahu’s aggressive policies.”

Palestinians inspect a damaged building in Gaza City November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Palestinians inspect a damaged building in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Netanyahu says fighting ‘could take time’

Speaking to reporters at military headquarters, Prime Minister Netanyahu said fighting with Palestinian groups could prove protracted.

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Aviv Kochavi (L) hold a special press conference on the current security situation between Israel a
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Chief of Staff of the Israeli army Aviv Kochavi (L) hold a press conference [Abir Sultan/EPA]

“Israel is not interested in escalation, but we will do everything required to protect ourselves,” said Netanyahu, who heads a caretaker government following two inconclusive elections.

“This could take time. What is needed is stamina and cool-headedness,” added Netanyahu, who accused Abu al-Ata of “plotting additional attacks”, without elaborating.

Analyst: Further escalation ‘depends on behaviour of Hamas’

Mulhaimar Abu Sadaa, a professor at Al Azhar University in Gaza, says the besieged city might witness “further escalation” after Abu al-Ata’s killing by Israeli forces, which prompted retaliatory rocket fire.

“We are going to witness further escalation in the coming hours and days, but it all depends on the behaviour of Hamas,” he told Al Jazeera, referring to the group administering the besieged enclave.

“If Hamas is going to join the Islamic Jihad we are going to approach further escalation with Israel, but if Hamas is able to contain the Islamic Jihad with the help of the Egyptians the situation might be contained or brought under control within two-three days.”

EU urges ‘complete de-escalation’

The European Union called for a “rapid and complete de-escalation”.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” the bloc’s diplomatic service said in a statement.

“A rapid and complete de-escalation is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

Palestinian man killed, 12 others wounded, in fresh Israeli air raid

Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for Gaza’s Health Ministry, told Al Jazeera that one Palestinian has been killed in an Israeli air raid that targeted the northern Gaza Strip.

Mohammed Attiyah Musleh Hammouda, 20, was killed in the attack, and 12 others were wounded, according to al-Qidra.

Mezzah, Damascus, Syria
Men walk past a damaged building in al-Mazzeh, Damascus [Omar Sanadiki/Reuters]

Islamic Jihad leader: Israel to pay hefty price

“[Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu will pay a hefty price for the assassination of Abu al-Ata … His troops and settlers will pay a hefty price for these crimes,” Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, told crowds in Gaza.

“Today, we tell our people, the only option available is to face [this aggression],” he said in televised remarks.

Hamas spokesman decries Israeli attack on Gaza

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the Israeli attacks and the assassination of Abu al-Ata is a “continuation of Israeli aggression towards the Palestinian people”.

“Our people are being targeted all over, inside and outside Palestine,” he told Al Jazeera Arabic from Gaza.

“The attack reflects Israel’s unsuccessful tactics … Assassinations cannot and will not put an end to resistance, and are not enough to stop Palestinians from supporting the cause,” Qassem said.

“After every attack, the will of the resistance grows and becomes more persistent,” he added.

Hamas is coordinating with all of the Palestinian factions in Gaza to respond to the “occupation’s crimes”, Qassem said.

Palestinian government calls on international community to intervene

“We call on the international community to intervene immediately to stop Israeli aggression,” Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Al Jazeera Arabic from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

“The president is in contact with the relevant parties to ensure the safety of our people in the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli Iron Dome System intercepts missiles

Israel’s Iron Dome System intercepted missiles, which were fired from the Gaza Strip in response Abu al-Ata’s killing

The rockets, according to Israeli local media, were intercepted over the southern city of Ashdod.

Widespread anger in Gaza

Al Jazeera Arabic’s Wael al-Dahdouh, reporting from Gaza, said there is a “high degree of anger” in the city.

“The overnight operation reminded people in Gaza of previous assassinations that targeted Palestinian activists and high-level commanders from Palestinian resistance groups in their homes,” he said.

“Anger is also among the various Palestinians groups in Gaza … because an attack on the Islamic Jihad means potential attacks on other groups as well.”

Netanyahu to deliver statement

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi, are set to deliver statements to media at 08:30 GMT.

Damascus raid ‘carried out with several missiles’

Syrian state media said the Israeli attack in Damascus had been carried out using several missiles, one of which was shot down over the nearby suburb of Daraya.

At the scene of the attack, a Reuters news agency witness said the top floor of a two-storey building had been completely scorched.

Syrian state media said two were killed, including the son al-Ajouri, and six people were wounded in the attack on the home in al-Mazzeh, a western district of the capital where several foreign embassies are located.

Israel ‘preparing for number of days of fighting’

Rockets struck the south of Israel and warning sirens wailed in Tel Aviv, although there were no immediate reports of hits on the seaside city.

missile system intercepting rockets reportedly fired from Gaza into Israel
An ‘Iron Dome’ missile system intercepting rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, near the city of Ashdod [Atef Safadi/EPA]

“We are preparing for a number of days of fighting,” Israeli army spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

The army ordered “non-essential” workers in Tel Aviv and central Israel to stay at home and schools and universities to close while banning public gatherings.

Bahaa Abu al-Ata’s funeral held in Gaza

Bahaa Abu Al-Atta
Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata during his funeral in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Islamic Jihad: Abu al-Ata’s wife also killed in raid

Islamic Jihad said Abu al-Ata’s wife, Asmaa, was also killed in the Israeli raid that ripped through the building in Gaza City’s Shejaiya district before dawn.

The children of the couple, Saleem, Mohammad, Liyan and Fatima as well as their neighbour Hanan Hillis, were moved to Shifa Hospital, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

In a statement, Islamic Jihad said: “Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” it said, referring to Israel, adding that it was on “maximum alert.”

People gather near the home of Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Baha Abu Al-Atta after it was hit by an Israeli strike that killed him in Gaza City November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
People gathered near the home of Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata after it was hit by an Israeli attack that killed him in Gaza City [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

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