Israel’s defense minister signaled Friday that the military would stop its airstrikes if Palestinian militant groups halted rocket attacks, a day after the deadliest Israeli raid in decades raised the prospect of a major flare-up in fighting.
The limited exchange of fire between Gaza militants and the Israeli armed forces has so far followed a familiar pattern that allows both sides to respond without leading to a major escalation. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s instruction to the military to prepare for new strikes in the Gaza Strip “if necessary” also appeared to leave open the possibility that the violence would subside.
Midday prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, often a catalyst for clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, passed in relative calm, despite a heavy police presence. Still, residents of the holy city and the occupied West Bank remained on edge.
The bombardments followed an Israeli raid in the flashpoint Jenin refugee camp that turned into a gun battle, which killed at least nine people, including seven militants and a 61-year-old woman.