Operation “Breaking Dawn” in Gaza Enters its Second Day

(Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP) (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 24 hours after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) eliminated Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) northern Gaza commander Taysir al-Jabari, Palestinian militant organizations have fired more than 449 rockets towards Israel, some targeting the southern environs of Tel-Aviv.

While some rockets have reached central Israel, PIJ — supported by approximately half a dozen militant organizations — have concentrated their rocket attacks against cities and communities near the Gaza border.

The latest figures put the death toll in Gaza at twenty four, which includes a number of militants that have not been officially claimed by Palestinian factions. Although, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine published a statement acknowledging the death of a militant who was killed on Saturday in an IDF airstrike.

Additionally, the majority of Palestinian militant organizations that comprise the Joint Operations Room have published statements and videos taking credit for launching rockets against Israel over the last day and a half of fighting.

While rockets were being fired by Palestinian militants on Saturday, the IDF struck sites belonging to militant groups across the Gaza Strip, including targeting senior members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Among those targeted was Khaled Mansour, PIJ’s southern commander. In a press conference, an IDF official stated Mansour was targeted in an operation Saturday evening in the city of Rafah. The official added that the “entire top brass of the PIJ military wing in Gaza” have been targeted by the IDF since operation “Breaking Dawn” began on Friday.

Hours after the IDF official’s statement, Mansour’s body was pulled from the rubble of a building in Rafah and PIJ acknowledged his death in a brief statement.

“The great commander ‘Khaled Saeed Mansour’, a member of the Military Council and commander of the southern region, who rose [to heaven] as a result of a Zionist raid targeting him yesterday evening in the city of Rafah,” the statement said.

The response by Palestinian militant groups has been limited to rocket fire. Though, PIJ has the capability to launch drones and fire anti-tank guided missiles, but have yet to employ them in this current round of fighting. Additionally, the group’s spokesperson, Abu Hamza, has yet to make a statement, which is unusual during conflict with Israel.

Lastly, all indicators suggest Hamas has not been operationally involved in the conflict, but that can change if the leadership of the so-called Palestinian resistance feels that they have not achieved a substantial victory in the fighting.

Up until now, the IDF has denied PIJ and other militant organizations an operational victory. The Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted the majority of rockets it has targeted, and the IDF has achieved operational goals by eliminating senior PIJ leaders in Gaza.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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