GAZA — A pre-dawn Israeli air strike on an apartment in the Gaza Strip has killed a top Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander and one other person.
A warplane attacked an apartment on the fifth floor of a building in Hamad Residential City, near Khan Younis in the south of the strip.
Wednesday saw militants in Gaza firing more than 460 rockets at Israel.
The Israeli military hit more than 130 militant targets in Gaza, in the heaviest fighting in nine months.
Palestinian medical sources estimate the death toll from fighting this week is now at least 24, including three other PIJ commanders.
Several people were hurt in Israel rushing to shelters as the rockets were fired from Gaza.
The armed wing of the PIJ confirmed that the head of its missile unit, Ali Hassan Ghali, also known as Abu Muhammad, had died in Thursday morning’s attack.
The PIJ is the second largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas, and it has sworn to avenge the deaths of Palestinians killed.
Israel’s military confirmed it had targeted Ghali and what it called two “other Islamic Jihad operatives in Gaza”.
They described the commander as a central figure in the PIJ who had been “responsible for the recent rocket barrages launched against Israel”.
On Wednesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel’s campaign was not over.
“We have hit Islamic Jihad with the most significant blow it has ever suffered,” he said, referring to the killing of the three PIJ commanders on Tuesday.
Hours before Netanyahu spoke, Egyptian media reported that Egypt had brokered a ceasefire, but there was no immediate confirmation from the two sides.
An umbrella organization representing armed factions in Gaza earlier warned that “if Israel increases its aggression, dark days await it”.
This week’s air strikes were the deadliest since three days of hostilities between Israel and PIJ last August, in which 49 Palestinians were killed in Gaza.
PIJ has been responsible for many of the rocket attacks on Israel in recent years and is sworn to Israel’s destruction.
There was a serious flare-up last week, as PIJ and other groups fired more than 100 rockets into Israel over two days, following the death in an Israeli prison of a Palestinian hunger striker. The Israeli military carried out airstrikes on sites it said were linked to Hamas in response.
Tensions also remained high in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday after Israel carried out arrest raids.
Two Palestinians were killed in the town of Qabatiya by Israeli forces, who said the pair had fired at them. An Israeli soldier was also seriously wounded during a separate exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen in Tubas. BBC