Most terrorists killed in Gaza escalation were from Islamic Jihad

Iran-backed group, accused of being main instigator of violence, lost 8 members, while Hamas says 3 of its terrorists were killed in Israeli strikes

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Relatives carry the body of a Palestinian, who was killed in Israeli strikes the previous day, during a funeral ceremony in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza Strip on May 6 2019. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
Relatives carry the body of a Palestinian, who was killed in Israeli strikes the previous day, during a funeral ceremony in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza Strip on May 6 2019. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

At least 11 of the Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip since Friday were members of terror groups, according to Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Eight of the eleven members of terror groups belonged to the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing.

The Al-Quds Brigades confirmed on its website the identities of eight of its members killed in Isaeli strikes.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, verified in statements that three others killed during the fighting belonged to its ranks.

Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip Saturday and Sunday after terror groups in Gaza including Islamic Jihad and Hamas began firing rockets and projectiles at southern Israel Saturday morning.

A plume of smoke rises above buildings during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City on May 4, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Four Israeli civilians were killed in the violent flareup, three from rocket fire and one when his car was hit by an anti-tank missile.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 29 Palestinians were killed by Israeli strikes, including two pregnant women and a baby. Israel said one of the women and her baby were killed in a failed rocket launch and not as a result of IDF actions.

Palestinian emergency personnel try to put out the fire on a car belonging to Hamas terror group senior member Hamed Hamdan al-Khodari after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on May 5, 2019. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP)

An IDF spokesperson could not immediately comment on the reported death toll in Gaza.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, its strikes targeted infrastructure belonging to terror groups, including weapons storage and rocket launching and production facilities.

The army also admitted to killing Hamas field commander Hamed Hamdan al-Khodari in a targeted strike.

According to the IDF, al-Khodari owned a number of money exchanges in the Gaza Strip and used them to bring large amounts of Iranian cash into the coastal enclave for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups.

Smoke trails seen as rockets are launched from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip toward Israel on May 4, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Calm returned to the border region Monday, after the sides reportedly reached a ceasefire. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of them Islamist terror groups sworn to Israel’s destruction, announced the ceasefire, while Israel remained mostly mum in keeping with its general policy.

Unlike past rounds of fighting, the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad was accused by Israel of being a main instigator of the violence over the weekend, rather than Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin said the army focused more on hitting Islamic Jihad, leading to the higher death toll for the group.

“With Iran’s encouragement, [Islamic Jihad] worked to heat up the border with rockets and snipers,” he said.

Fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad terror group’s military wing, take part in a military march in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

Over the weekend, Israeli officials accused Islamic Jihad of escalating tensions with Israel.

“The Islamic Jihad movement is dragging Hamas and the entire Gaza Strip toward an escalation. It started the escalation and is doing everything to ignite the Gaza Strip and ruin the efforts to restore calm,” Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic-language spokesman, said on Saturday. “Islamic Jihad has proven once again that it does not care about the Gaza Strip’s residents at all and it is now paying the price for its attacks against us.”

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