A new wave of violence in Gaza has left a wide range of conflicting reports about Operation Breaking Dawn, an IDF campaign that targeted Islamist Jihadists and yielded a weekend of Palestinian trauma.
Over the weekend, Israeli airstrikes made news when Operation Breaking Dawn yielded death and property destruction in Gaza. As with every violent encounter in the region, differing accounts arose quickly, especially as the Palestinian civilian death count surged. The gamification of Middle Eastern peace through statistics is a common phenomenon for this decades-long crisis, but here are key details for international observers:
Operation Breaking Dawn was a 66-hour Israeli Defense Force operation targeting members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is not the same as Hamas. Though both are funded and armed by Iran, the PIJ has multiple bases in Middle Eastern countries, opposes negotiations with Israel, and seeks the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel-occupied lands by force.
The IDF took pre-emptive action after rapidly escalating tensions and word of possible attacks following the arrest of a senior member of the PIJ. The operation struck 170 targets, and The Jerusalem Post acknowledges the death of 11 innocent bystanders by Israeli airstrikes, but not the direct destruction of any civilian infrastructure. Stated targets included a PIJ tunnel network, and weapons warehouses.
One of their targets was in a three-story residential building, visiting the apartment of a fellow militant, at the time of IDF airstrikes. The building was flattened with damage to surrounding residences. In this region, one of the most densely populated in the world, the line between civilian and military infrastructure is treated fluidly by all involved military parties.
The death count for Palestinians in this latest operation currently sits at 44, as reported by Gaza health officials, while reports place injured Palestinian parties at over 300. The IDF claims the death of at least two PIJ militants among that number.
This estimated death count includes 15 children. Most reports focus on the killing of multiple children in Jabalia, a refugee camp. That particular incident, first reported by onlookers as a win for the IDF, changed in coverage when the exact nature of the casualties emerged. After the IDF took out one of its main targets, it reported that PIJ launched over 1,100 rockets toward Israel, 990 of which entered Israel, to be eliminated by the Iron Dome with a 96% success rate. Israeli citizens had to evacuate to shelters, and at least 60 received medical treatment.
The IDF holds that the children killed in Jabalia were victims of a stray PIJ rocket, and that PIJ weapons, around 200 of which did not reach Israel, killed more Palestinians than IDF attacks. Third-party sources have not yet been able to confirm this claim.
Egypt has mediated a truce between the PIJ and Israel, which is tenuously holding. Hamas notably remained on the sidelines of this conflict. UN officials call for increased aid to address the mounting Palestinian crisis at the close of IDF operations, while Home Front Command announced a gradual lifting of security restrictions, which first saw power and services cut to Gaza for Operation Breaking Dawn.
The situation for food, fuel, electricity, and medicine among Palestinians remains dire.