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Israel assassinates fifth Islamic Jihad commander, rocket fired from Gaza kills one in central Israel

Ahmed Abu Daqqa, a senior commander of the al-Quds Brigades, the armed branch of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement, was assassinated in an Israeli airstrike near Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, on May 11, 2023. (Photo by Shehab news agency)

A high-profile commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance movement has been killed when the Israeli military carried out airstrikes against targets in the besieged Gaza Strip, hours after the group announced the death of one of its military leaders in a pre-dawn strike carried out by the regime.

Also, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in retaliation killed one person and injured at least two others in the city of Rehovot in central Israel, Israeli police said.

"One person has been pronounced dead" after a rocket hit a building, the police said in a statement, adding two other people suffered moderate injuries and that emergency personnel were conducting a search of the damaged structure.

According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Ahmed Abu Daqqa, a senior commander of the al-Quds Brigades, the armed branch of the group, was assassinated in the strike near Khan Younis on Thursday. Four people were also wounded in the act of aggression.

He was the fifth senior Islamic Jihad commander killed since Israel began striking Gaza in pre-dawn raids on Tuesday.

Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinian resistance group announced the death of Ali Ghali, the commander of its rocket launch unit.

The Israeli military said Ghali and Abu Daqqa helped oversee rocket launches towards the occupied territories over recent days as well as in previous rounds of fighting with Islamic Jihad.

Later on Thursday, Palestinian media outlets reported the death of two more Palestinians in an Israeli airstrike on the Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City.

Palestinian medical sources identified the victims as Mohamed Suleiman Dader and Hussein Youssef Abdullah Dalloul.

They were killed as part of an operation that has assassinated 28 people, including at least four women and six children this week.

Gaza-based resistance groups have retaliated with salvos of rockets.

The Israeli military said it has attacked 158 targets in Gaza while at least 523 rockets were launched from the besieged coastal territory towards the occupied territories this week. 

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany on Thursday called for an end to the violence between Israel and Gaza fighters, who have been trading heavy fire for three days.

“The bloodletting must end now,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said after hosting talks with her counterparts.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi also said the “negative developments must end, peace must be revived."

Safadi said it was urgent to “calm the situation” and to create confidence-building measures that could lead to a political perspective for long-term peace.

The four ministers said later in a joint statement that they were “deeply alarmed” by the escalation.

“We urge an immediate comprehensive ceasefire which will end Israeli military operations in Gaza and indiscriminate rocket firing against Israel,” they said.

The group condemned the “deteriorating security situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, and on-going developments in Gaza, which has claimed unacceptable civilian casualties, including women and children.”

The four top diplomats also said they would work with all parties to pave the way “for the resumption of a credible political process.”

They underlined that “all causes of tension and triggers of violence must end, including unilateral measures undermining the viability of the [so-called] two-state solution and prospects of a just and lasting peace.”

The group encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to “scrupulously implement” commitments made at talks in Jordan in February and renewed in Egypt in March to prevent more violence between them.

Palestinian resistance vows no retreat  

The Joint Operations Room of the Palestinian Resistance Factions issued a statement on Thursday, stating that the Israeli assassination will only strengthen its fighters. 

"We confirm that we are committed to the covenant of the martyrs. We will not retreat. Assassinations will only increase our strength, and our retaliation will continue," it said.

"We say to the cowardly enemy that by targeting safe homes, they are making a mistake in their assessment, and that the heavy hand of resistance is capable of defeating them."

Palestinian youth shot by Israeli forces in West Bank raid dies from wounds

Separately, a young Palestinian died from wounds sustained a day before when Israeli military forces stormed the northern West Bank city of Qabatiya, as a year-long wave of violence engulfing the occupied territories shows no signs of abating.

Fawaz Hammad, the director of al-Razi Hospital, told the official Palestinian news agency Wafa that 30-year-old Aws Jamal Hamamda Kamil, was rushed on Wednesday to the medical center in the city of Jenin in critical condition. He was severely wounded as live bullets had struck him in the chest and stomach.

Palestinians take part in the funeral procession of 30-year-old Aws Jamal Hamamda Kamil in the occupied northern West Bank city of Qabatiya on May 11, 2023. (Photo by Shehab news agency)

Hammad noted that all efforts to save his life were unsuccessful, and he died of his wounds on Thursday.

The Israeli military said in a statement it conducted a raid in the early hours of Wednesday on Qabatiya, situated six kilometers (3.7 miles) south of Jenin, alleging that two gunmen opened fire at troops from a passing vehicle.

“The troops responded by firing at the two assailants, killing them,” the army further claimed, adding that troops seized an assault rifle and handgun from the car.

Wafa, citing the Palestinian Ministry of Health, identified the victims as 19-year-old Ahmad Jamal Assaf, and Warani Walid Qatanat, 24.

Witnesses said a large number of Israeli forces raided Qabatiya, and broke into several homes in the western neighborhood of the West Bank city. They violently searched the buildings and ransacked all properties before leaving.

During the assault, Israeli soldiers opened fire at a car, killing two young Palestinians and wounding a third.

Social media users in the city also reported that Israeli forces were raiding homes and stopping cars on the streets.

At least 123 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far this year, according to Palestinian figures. 

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