Israel has bombed the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants launched several rockets from the besieged coastal enclave amid tensions over an Israeli raid that killed at least 11 Palestinians in the captured city of Nablus. stationed on the West Coast.
The attacks early on Thursday produced plumes of black smoke that rose above one of the targeted sites north of Gaza City.
Hours earlier, rockets fired from the Gaza Strip lit up the night sky and set off sirens in the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon.
There were no reports of casualties.
Palestinian witnesses said they saw at least eight rockets fired, while the Israeli military put the number at six.
The Israeli military said its air defenses intercepted five rockets while the sixth landed in an uninhabited area.
No Palestinian group has yet claimed responsibility for Thursday’s rocket fire.
The rocket launches came after the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad group condemned the Israeli military attack on Nablus on Wednesday as a “major crime” for which the “resistance must respond”. Hamas, which governs the coastal region, has also issued a warning, with spokesman Abu Obeida saying that “the resistance in Gaza is observing the enemy’s escalating crimes against our people in the Bank West is occupied”. He added that “their patience is running out”.
The Nablus raid is one of the deadliest Israeli operations in the occupied West Bank since the Second Intifada or the Palestinian uprising of 2000-2005. Wednesday’s death toll surpassed that of an Israeli attack last month in the city of Jenin, further north.
Among the dead in Nablus were three Palestinian men, aged 72, 66 and 61, and a 16-year-old boy, according to health officials.
At least 100 others were injured. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, about 82 of them were hit by live bullets.
The Israeli military cordoned off all entrances to Nablus on Wednesday morning before besieging a home where two wanted Palestinian militants, Hossam Isleem and Mohammad Abdulghani, were both killed. Palestinians Armed group Lions’ Den said in a statement that it clashed with Israeli forces during the raid, along with the newly formed Balata Brigade.
The Israeli military said it had entered Nablus to arrest three militants suspected of carrying out previous gun attacks on Israelis.
The four-hour operation left a centuries-old market in Nablus badly damaged.
Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim, reporting from Nablus, said witnesses described Israeli soldiers opening fire indiscriminately.
“We are hearing stories that Israeli forces have fired on neighbors, people in their homes, people who are doing their daily activities. Palestinians say that Israel is acting this way because they are not responsible and are free to kill Palestinians,” said Ibrahim.
Time-stamped security footage widely shared online also shows two young men, apparently unarmed, being shot as they run down the street. Gunshots rang out, both fell to the ground, one’s hat flew off his head.
According to Ahmad Aswad, the head nurse of the cardiology department, the flow of injured people flooded the city’s Najah hospital.
The 36-year-old doctor told the Associated Press that he saw many patients shot in the chest, head and thighs.
“They shoot to kill,” he said.
In what he said would haunt him, he and a colleague carefully removed a bullet from the heart of a 61-year-old man. After the chaos subsided and they declared their patient dead, they looked into the man’s face. It was the father of his colleague, Abdelaziz Ashqar.
His colleague, Elias Ashqar, was subdued and silent. “It didn’t feel like we were in reality,” Aswad said.
Israel has stepped up military attacks, arrests and killings in Palestinian cities and villages in the occupied West Bank since June 2021, following the famous Palestinian uprising known as May boom sweeping through Israel and the Palestinian territories it has illegally occupied since 1967. Palestinian civilians confronted the Israeli army in raids and bystanders who did not intervene were killed, as well as warriors in targeted assassinations and in armed clashes.
According to the United Nations, last year was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006, with the Israeli military killing 171 Palestinians in a military operation launched after a series of attacks. Palestinian attacks inside Israel.
The victims included 30 children.
So far, Israeli forces have killed about 62 Palestinians, including 13 children, in the occupied territories.
Most of the Israeli military attacks occurred in Nablus and Jenin.
Mariam Barghouti, a Palestinian journalist at Mondoweiss news site that focuses on Palestinian issues, said the cities are where “the concentration of armed resistance is increasing”.
“Although it [the resistance] expanding into other parts of the West Bank, the Lions’ Den and the Jenin Brigade continue to be at the heart of the Palestinian armed resistance and the youth groups that are new to fighting, which is why they become target,” Barghouti told Al Jazeera.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Middle East war, territories where Palestinians seek an independent state. Negotiations on the state of Palestine have been stalled for nearly a decade.