World · August 6, 2022

Live Updates: Latest news on the Israel-Gaza conflict

Credit…Mahmud Hams / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip lasted for a second day on Saturday, in what became the largest conflagration in the territory in a year.

Israel, which launched a military operation on Friday with a series of airstrikes on Gaza, on Saturday targeted what were rumored to be rocket factories and depots belonging to the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. The militants fired rockets on Israeli cities closest to Gaza.

Local news outlets showed images of two residential buildings razed to the ground by Israeli missile attacks on Saturday. The Israeli army said its helicopters and ships had targeted what it described as two weapons depots, which they said were “in the residences of terrorist agents of the Islamic Jihad terror organization in the Gaza Strip.” It was not immediately clear whether they were referring to the same residential buildings.

Rockets fired from Gaza hit a house in the Israeli border town of Sderot and another Israeli community near the Gaza border on Saturday, according to Israeli police and local media. One civilian was slightly injured.

At noon, sirens warning of incoming rockets rang further north in the Israeli port city of Ashdod.

The Palestinian death toll from two days of fighting rose to 15 Saturday afternoon with 125 injured, according to the Gaza health ministry. Among the victims killed on Friday was a 5-year-old girl.

Credit…Mahmud Hams / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

According to the military, two Israeli soldiers were wounded Saturday by a mortar round that fell on an Israeli municipal farm near the Gaza border.

Most of the bullets fired into Israeli territory appeared to have fallen into open areas or been intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome air defense system.

No ceasefire seemed imminent, despite early mediation efforts by international actors, including the United Nations. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the political bureau of Hamas, the dominant Islamic militant group in Gaza, said he spoke overnight with officials from Egypt and Qatar, as well as the United Nations.

Fighting erupted on Friday afternoon when Israel launched airstrikes that were said to be an attempt to thwart an impending attack from Gaza by Islamic Jihad after nearly a week of escalating tensions between Israel and Gaza’s second largest militant group. Israeli officials said they are only targeting Islamic Jihad, after claiming that on Friday afternoon it was on the verge of firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli targets.

Israel arrested one of the group’s senior commanders in the West Bank this week, leading to threats of retaliation from its Gaza leadership. An Israeli airstrike on Friday killed Taysir al-Jabari, a senior leader of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli army also claimed to have arrested 19 Islamic Jihad agents during night raids in the occupied West Bank.

Credit…Menahem Kahana / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

On Saturday morning, an Israeli army spokesman, Ran Kochav, told Israeli public radio that the fighting would most likely last at least a week and that no negotiations were underway to end the hostilities.

But overnight, the militants reduced the range of their rocket fire, mainly targeting areas close to Gaza instead of the cities further north, which they initially targeted.

Analysts said the recalibration could prevent further escalation of the situation, as well as Hamas’ decision to remain on the sidelines of the fighting.

Islamic Jihad sometimes acts independently of Hamas, which does not always support the smaller group in its missile wars with Israel.

Credit…Fatima Shbair / Associated Press

Fady Hanona contributed to the reporting.