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IDF says it hit Islamic Jihad ‘attack tunnel’ in Gaza, another 140 terror targets

Operation Breaking Dawn enters 3rd day; military says terror groups launched nearly 600 rockets at Israel, including toward Jerusalem; 120 fall short, some killing Palestinians

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad terror commander was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, August 7, 2022  (AP Photo/Yousef Masoud)
Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad terror commander was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, August 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Yousef Masoud)

The Israeli Air Force struck a Palestinian Islamic Jihad “attack tunnel” in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Sunday morning, the military said, as Operation Breaking Dawn entered the third day.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the tunnel, built several meters underground from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, was to be used to “enter and attack Israel by surprise.”

The IDF said the tunnel did not cross into Israeli territory, as Israel has a high-tech belowground wall guarding its frontier with Gaza from attack tunnels, which once threatened southern towns.

Military spokesperson Ran Kochav told reporters that the IDF had struck some 140 Islamic Jihad targets across the coastal enclave since the beginning of the operation, which began Friday afternoon with the killing of the terror group’s northern Gaza commander.

The targets included the tunnel, dozens of observation posts and military sites, several rocket launching positions, and eight terror squads en route to committing an attack, he said.

Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel continued on Sunday, and for the first time in the current conflict, sirens sounded in towns close to Jerusalem. Several rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system on the outskirts of the capital.

The latest IDF data put the number of rockets and mortars launched toward Israel by PIJ since Friday at over 580.

Of them, 120 fell short in the Gaza Strip. In one of the failed rocket launches, seven Palestinians were killed, including children.

The IDF believed another failed launch on Sunday caused an explosion in northern Gaza, killing another two Palestinians.

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad terror commander died in the southern Gaza strip, on August 7, 2022. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted some 200 projectiles, according to the latest data, which was as of 6:30 a.m.

The military said the Iron Dome demonstrated a 97 percent success rate at intercepting projectiles fired toward populated areas. The system is programmed to ignore rockets that are not deemed a threat.

Still, several homes and other civilian infrastructure in southern Israel have been damaged in rocket attacks.

A rocket strike in the southern city of Ashkelon after a barrage launched toward Israel by a Gaza terror group, August 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said it had taken 28 people to hospitals since the beginning of fighting, including two people who were lightly hurt by rocket shrapnel, 19 after falling while running to shelter, and seven who were treated for anxiety.

The Hamas-run health ministry meanwhile said at least 29 people had been killed in Gaza, including six children. Another 203 people were wounded, it said. Israel has denied responsibility for the deaths in the apparent failed rocket launches in the Jabaliya refugee camps.

In the West Bank, the IDF said Sunday morning that troops detained 20 Palestinians affiliated with PIJ during overnight raids.

Israeli troops detain a man allegedly affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, August 7, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces).

The Gaza operation was launched after several days of closures and lockdowns in Israeli communities near the Strip due to the alert of an imminent attack, with the PIJ seeking to avenge the arrest of its West Bank leader last Monday.

Israeli leaders said the operation was started because Islamic Jihad had refused to back down from its plans to attack Israeli targets close to the border.

In the opening round of Israeli strikes on Friday, the military killed one of PIJ’s senior commanders, Tayseer Jabari, whom officials said was planning to attack Israeli civilians near the border. Jabari replaced Baha Abu al-Ata as the group’s commander in northern Gaza after the latter was killed in an Israeli strike in 2019.

On Saturday night, Israel killed Jabari’s southern Gaza counterpart, Khaled Mansour in an airstrike in Rafah.

Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders Khaled Mansour (right) and Tayseer Jabari (left) in an undated photo. The pair were killed in separate Israeli airstrikes on August 5 and 6, 2022. (Ashraf Amra/Courtesy)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday praised the IDF and Shin Bet security agency for the “extraordinary achievement” of eliminating Mansour.

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