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'Islamic Jihad' Ends 'Military Response' against Israel after 2-Day Flare-up

'Islamic Jihad' Ends 'Military Response' against Israel after 2-Day Flare-up

Monday, 24 February, 2020 - 12:00
Flames and smoke are seen during Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip February 23, 2020. Reuters
Asharq Al-Awsat

The Islamic Jihad announced the end of its "military response" against Israel on Monday after a two-day exchange of fire just a week before the Jewish state's March 2 election.

There was no immediate confirmation of a ceasefire from Israel, and AFP correspondents in the Gaza Strip said Israeli airstrikes were ongoing early Monday evening.

The flare-up triggered school, road and train closures in southern Israel.

Israel's army said in a statement that 20 "projectiles" had been fired from the Palestinian enclave on Monday, 18 of them intercepted by its air defense systems.

Speaking to Israel's Army Radio, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he'd conveyed a message to Hamas movement that if it did not stop Gaza militants behind the attacks, Israel would target Hamas directly.

“If you don't shoot them, we will shoot you. I'm talking about a war,” he said. “I'm not looking for a war. But we have prepared something you can't even imagine."

Netanyahu's interview was interrupted with news of fresh air raid sirens warning of incoming rockets, as Palestinian militant fire resumed midday after a morning lull.

Israeli police images showed that at least one of the projectiles landed in an empty children's playground.

On Sunday, in response to Israel's killing of a Palestinian along the border, Islamic Jihad launched more than 20 rockets from Gaza into Israel.

Israel's military said it responded to the rockets with airstrikes targeting "terror sites" throughout Gaza as well as near the Syrian capital.

The Damascus strike killed two Islamic Jihad fighters and four other Iran-backed militants allied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Israel took a series of precautions amid the rocket fire from Gaza.

The education ministry ordered 65,000 students in towns near Gaza to stay home, postponing exams at universities in Ashkelon, Sderot and Netivot.

The transport ministry canceled trains between Ashkelon and Beersheba, a major southern city roughly 50 kilometers from Gaza.

The military said Zikim Beach on the Mediterranean Sea just north of Gaza had been closed to visitors.

Islamic Jihad is allied with Hamas that has controlled Gaza since 2007. But it has not accepted the informal truce the movement has agreed with Israel in exchange for an easing of the crippling blockade on Gaza.

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