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Gaza Rockets Fired, Israel Retaliates, in Wake of Deadly Raid on Jenin Terror Cell

Fire and smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)
Fire and smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in central Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

JERUSALEM, Israel  – Code Red sirens signaling incoming missiles from Gaza sounded in several Israeli cities Thursday night, as terror groups in the Gaza Strip fired rockets to avenge the deaths of suspected Islamic Jihad members killed in a raid on a refugee camp in the city of Jenin. Israel retaliated against the rocket fire with air strikes on an underground rocket factory in central Gaza.

The rockets launched from Gaza fell short of their targets and no casualties or damage was reported in Israel. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two rockets headed for the coastal city of Ashkelon.

Nine Palestinians, most of them suspected militants, along with a 61-year-old woman, died in Thursday's Jenin attack, a rare daylight raid instigated by Israeli security forces to preempt what they believed was an imminent large terrorist action inside Israel.

A military spokesman said the raid stopped "a ticking time-bomb," thanks to the action of the forces on the ground and quality intelligence from Shin Bet, Israel's security agency. Hamas claimed 4 of the dead were members of their group, while Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said they lost 3 members killed in Jenin.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said Thursday it will investigate the reported civilian death.

Both the rocket fire from Gaza and the airstrikes from Israel appeared to be limited in scope, possibly signaling that neither side wants a wider war.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared 3 days of mourning after the Jenin raid, and said he would cut off security cooperation with Israel in Palestinian cities and villages. The Palestinians also plan to put Israel on the defensive at the United Nations.

Palestinian Authority Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, "We will go to the Security Council to implement the international protection resolution for the Palestinian people under Chapter VII and stop unilateral measures."

Security forces in Israel are on high alert for violence throughout Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and will monitor the potential for trouble after Friday midday prayers at mosques in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with top military and security leaders after the Jenin raid. He cautioned, "The State of Israel will continue to operate in any place and at any time against anyone who aims to harm the citizens of Israel. Our security forces are prepared for any development in the various arenas.”

The clashes come just days before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to arrive in the Middle East for discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. 

The State Department said the U.S. recognizes the security challenges facing Israel, but is deeply concerned about the escalating violence.

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