In response to salvoes of rockets fired throughout the day from Gaza, the Israeli army announced on Tuesday evening, May 2, that it was carrying out air raids on the Palestinian enclave. These strikes targeted various sites, including one of the Islamist movement Hamas, according to security sources and Palestinian witnesses. The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed to have responded with surface-to-air missile fire.
These exchanges of fire follow the death, at 45, of Khader Adnane, a senior figure in the Palestinian Islamist movement Islamic Jihad who was on hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
Early Tuesday, the Israeli Prison Service announced the death of a prisoner affiliated with Islamic Jihad, “found unconscious in his cell”, then hospitalized. “Khader Adnane has chosen the hunger strike as a last resort, a non-violent means of protesting against the oppression to which he and his people are subjected”reacted the organization Physicians for Human Rights Israel, which had called for his hospitalization “immediate” after visiting him.
At a press conference at their home in Arraba, in the northern occupied West Bank, his wife, Randa Moussa, said his death, after nearly three months on hunger strike, was a ” pride “. On Friday, she told Agence France-presse (AFP) that her conditions of detention were “very difficult” and that Israel had refused to transfer him to a civilian hospital.
Mardi, Mme Moussa added that he did not want “let a drop of blood be shed”. “We don’t want anyone to respond to the martyrdom of Sheikh [Adnane]we don’t want someone firing rockets and then hitting Gaza.”.
But, at dawn, three rockets and a mortar shell were fired from Gaza into Israel, falling in wasteland or near the border fence, according to the Israeli army. Exchanges of fire – Israeli tanks on one side and rockets on the other – then took place in the afternoon.
Twenty-two rockets were fired, sixteen of which fell into vacant lots and four were intercepted by the defense system, the Israeli army reported. Two fell in the town of Sderot and three people were injured there by shrapnel, according to rescue workers.
The shootings were claimed, in a joint press release, by the armed groups in Gaza, who presented them as “a first response” on the death of Khader Adnane. After the death was announced, Islamic Jihad, an organization considered “terrorist” by Israel, the United States and the European Union, claimed that Israel “will pay[it] the price of this crime.
In August 2022, three days of clashes between Israel and Islamic Jihad had caused the death of 49 Palestinians, including twelve members of Islamic Jihad according to the movement, and at least nineteen children according to the United Nations. About 200 rockets were fired by Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel, injuring three.
Israeli wounded in West Bank
On Tuesday morning, Palestinian merchants also closed their shops in the occupied West Bank, responding to a call for a general strike. In the north of this territory, an Israeli was injured by shards of glass and two vehicles were damaged by gunfire, according to the Israeli army, in search of suspects.
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Khader Adnane began his hunger strike as soon as his incarceration began on February 5, the prison administration said, saying he “refused to undergo medical examinations and receive treatment”. He had been charged for his involvement in Islamic Jihad and for speeches in support of a hostile organization, an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The military appeal court had rejected his request for release, according to this source.
While other detainees on hunger strike have succumbed to force-feeding, he is the first to die directly from such an action, Palestinian Prisoners Club president Qaddoura Fares told AFP. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh accused Israel of having “murdered” Adnane by rejecting his calls to release him, and keeping him in his cell despite the seriousness of his condition.
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