The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) conducted airstrikes in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday morning, targeting and killing a senior Hamas naval operative and destroying a network of operational command centers.
The campaign of airstrikes began at approximately 04:30 a.m. local time and lasted for several hours. The IDF named the operation “Gates of Iron” and it was coordinated in the wake of an extended period of conflicts between the two military forces.
According to the Israeli military, its aircrafts dropped several precision-guided bombs on three targets associated with Hamas’s Commander of Naval forces. The airstrikes struck the “Naval City” military compound in Gaza City and a site belonging to the Hatim Squad, an Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades network.
Once the command center and residential building were struck, secondary explosions were reported in a nearby military compound in Beit Lahiya. Israeli fighter jets and attack helicopters also targeted a third Hamas compound located north of the Gaza Strip.
The strikes were reportedly intended to put an end to the increasing levels of tension between Hamas and the IDF. According to the IDF, the operations directly target senior Hamas operatives and their infrastructure, as a way of bringing stability and de-escalation to the region.
The IDF further stated that its campaign is a “proportional response” to the recent Hamas rocket fire that has targeted Israeli cities. In recent weeks, there has been an increase in hostile actions between the two sides, involving mortar and sniper attacks, as well as rocket fire from Gaza.
In the aftermath of the operation, the IDF has warned Hamas to stop its hostile actions and communicate through diplomatic channels. Hamas has yet to respond to the attacks, or the proposed diplomatic efforts.
The recent airstrikes are yet another example of rising tensions in the region. As the conflict continues, it remains to be seen if any diplomatic efforts
can help bring an end to the hostilities, or if both sides will instead remain entrenched in a cycle of violence.