JERUSALEM (AP) - The Latest on Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday (all times local):
Israel has targeted two senior commanders from the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, killing one in the Gaza Strip and missing the second in Syria as it steps up its battle against Iran and its proxies across the region.
Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife died as they slept in their home in eastern Gaza. That set off the heaviest fighting in months between Israel and Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed militant group that is even more hard-line than Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Gaza militants fired scores of rockets into Israel throughout the day, some reaching as far as Tel Aviv. Israeli warplanes responded with a series of airstrikes on Islamic Jihad targets. Eight others were killed, including at least seven militants.
Jordan’s foreign ministry is condemning an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip that killed a top militant commander.
In a statement Tuesday, Daifallah al-Fayez, a spokesman for the Jordanian foreign ministry, blamed Israel for the ensuing escalation in violence.
He said the fighting “will only increase tension and violence, deepen the environment of despair and promote extremist agendas in the region.”
The officials say Egypt’s general intelligence agency has stepped up communications and has “opened channels” with the U.S. and the European Union. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
- SAMY MAGDY in Cairo
It said the strikes hit a training camp and underground weapons manufacturing and storage sites.
Gaza’s Health Ministry says a 25-year-old Palestinian has been killed in the ongoing airstrikes. It was not immediately clear whether he was a militant.
In all, four Palestinians have been killed in Tuesday’s fighting, the worst bout in recent months.
The Israeli strike that killed the 42-year-old Abu el-Atta and his wife set off a furious barrage of dozens of rocket attacks that reached as far north as the Tel Aviv heartland. Islamic Jihad vowed further revenge. Israel reportedly targeted an Islamic Jihad commander in Syria, also on Tuesday.
The pair of strikes looked to escalate Israel’s confrontation with Iran and its proxies across the region and threatening to unleash another devastating round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants. Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression.
The 28-nation bloc said in a statement that “the firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop.”
The EU called for “a rapid and complete de-escalation” and stressed that it “is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”
The military says the rocket penetrated the roof of the home in Netivot on Tuesday morning.
Air raid sirens sounded as far north as Tel Aviv, with strikes reported in some of its suburbs. In one instance, a rocket landed on a highway, narrowly missing a passing vehicle.
The military said some 20 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system.
Israel’s Magen David Adom service says it treated one person for shrapnel wounds and several dozen who were either injured fleeing rockets or suffered from stress symptoms.
Israel’s military has ordered residents across much of the country to stay indoors and avoid large gatherings for the rest of the day.
The instructions issued on Tuesday indicate that the military expects heavy rocket fire out of Gaza to continue for some time.
People were told to stay indoors until Wednesday in the announcement.
The military’s Home Front Command also canceled school and university studies and “non-essential” jobs throughout southern Israel. It limited public gatherings to no more than 100 people in closed spaces.
The father says he saw his son “the first time in a week last night, when he came to sleep at home.” Salim Abu el-Atta spoke as he was receiving condolences from other mourners ahead of his son’s funeral later Tuesday.
He says: “It’s a crime to bomb him when he is asleep at his home.”
The father also confirmed that his daughter-in-law, Asmaa, was killed alongside her husband. The family car, a black Kia with tainted windows parked outside the family home, was destroyed by debris from the airstrike.
It adds that the attack on Tuesday morning “will not pass without a punishment.”
Meanwhile, the Islamic Johad in Gaza says a member of its leadership survived an Israeli airstrike in Damascus earlier in the morning. The group says the son of Akram al-Ajouri was killed.
SANA says six people were also wounded in the early morning attack on Tuesday on the building in the Mezzeh area of Damascus. It says a third missile landed in a suburb of the capital, in Daraya, near Damascus.
It was not immediately clear if the Islamic Jihad commander, identified as Akram al-Ajouri, was among those killed in the attack. Al-Ikhbariya channel said al-Ajouri’s son was among those killed.
The attack in Damascus coincided with the killing by Israel of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza in a rare targeted killing that threatened to unleash a round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants.
It’s a rare resumption of pinpointed targeting that threatens a new cross-border round of violence with Palestinian militants.
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