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Everything to Know About the Latest Israel-Gaza Fighting

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At least 31 Palestinians have died and one person in Israel has been killed amid the heaviest display of violence seen in months between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

The latest wave of violence began with Israeli airstrikes on Gaza on Tuesday that targeted Islamic Jihad, the second-largest Palestinian armed group in Gaza. Israeli airstrikes have since Tuesday killed five senior figures from Islamic Jihad, including most recently Ali Ghali, the head of its rocket force, and Ahmed Abu Daqqa, a senior commander. But rights groups have criticized the airstrikes, which have hit residential buildings.

Rockets have been fired in retaliation since Wednesday, with at least 800 fired toward Israel as of Friday.

At least seven women and four children were dead as of Friday, according to the U.N. At least three of the children were killed by misfired Palestinian rockets, according to the Israeli military.

After intense cross-border attacks on Wednesday, it appeared that Egypt—a long-term meditator between the two sides—had orchestrated a ceasefire. But violence resumed overnight on Thursday and continued for a third day on Friday.

“There were indirect understandings and agreements between Israel and the Palestinian groups, with mostly Egyptian officials acting as in-between negotiators who convey positions and try to reach an agreement,” says Mazen Masri, a senior lecturer of international law at City University of London. “In the last round, one of Israel’s commitments was that it is not going to assassinate members of Islamic Jihad,” he adds, referring to the last round of fighting in August 2022 that left 49 Palestinians dead, including 17 children.

Here’s what to know about the latest round of fighting.

Israeli airstrikes against Gaza

The latest outbreak of violence was triggered by Israel’s attack on Islamic Jihad on Tuesday, in which three of the group’s commanders—Khalil Salah al-Bahitini, Tareq Mohammed Ezzedine, and Jihad Shaker al-Ghanam—were killed that day.

Israel’s military said it has used airstrikes to hit at least 215 targets in Gaza as of Friday, including rocket and mortar launch sites. Israeli bombs and shells have destroyed 47 homes and badly damaged a further 19, leaving 165 Palestinians homeless, according to Gaza’s housing ministry.

On Thursday, Ali Ghali, a senior commander in charge of Islamic Jihad’s rocket force, was also killed when his apartment in the southern city of Khan Younis was hit by Israeli airstrikes. The attack targeted the top floor of a residential building in a Qatari-built complex in Gaza. Ahmed Abu Daqqa was also killed in an attack in the town of Bani Suheila on Thursday after Palestinian militant groups fired mortars and rockets at Israeli communities neighboring Gaza; the IDF retaliated by striking a number of targets it said belonged to Islamic Jihad, killing Daqqa in the process.

Gaza is home to as many as 2.3 million Palestinians who have been subject to a stringent Israeli-led land, air, and sea blockades since 2007. Human Rights Watch has likened Gaza to an “open-air prison.”

Israel’s airstrikes against Gaza this week also come at a time of heightened tension between Israel and Islamic Jihad, as Khader Adnan, a member of the group from the occupied West Bank, died after a 87-day hunger strike in protest over Israel’s controversial policy of administrative detention—a pre-emptive measure that enables authorities to detain individuals without charges or trial. “He died in prison and he was not taken to the hospital, so this has increased the level of anger,” Masri says.

Addressing the nation in a televised address Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined the government’s action against the militant group but added, “This round is not over.”

Read More: On Its 75th Anniversary, Israel Faces Deep Divisions

Israel has not attacked Hamas, the ruling militant group in Gaza. Israel and Hamas have engaged in four wars since the group won an election in 2006, establishing a Palestinian national unity government with Fatah, before the arrangement collapsed and Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Hamas reported that Egyptian, Qatari, and U.N. officials have all made contact over fears of further escalation, but the group has stayed out of the conflict.

Rockets fired at Israel

Israel’s airstrikes against Islamic Jihad commanders led to the group launching over 800 rockets into Israel.

Some empty buildings were also damaged by rockets, after residents had evacuated and fled the area when an air raid siren was set off. One rocket struck a building in the central Israeli city of Rehovot on Thursday, killing one person.

The Israel Defense Forces said that the majority of the rockets were also intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defense system, which is supplied by the U.S., while other rockets landed in open areas.

Ceasefire negotiations

Egypt continues to work behind the scenes to secure a ceasefire.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan called for de-escalation in a call on Wednesday with the head of Israel’s national security council, Tzachi Hanegbi. Sullivan “noted continued regional efforts to broker a ceasefire, and emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions and prevent further loss of life,” according to a White House readout reported by Reuters.

Both sides were on the brink of a ceasefire before fighting erupted again Thursday. “In a previous round of fighting, Israel guaranteed as part of a ceasefire agreement that it would not assassinate members of Islamic Jihad. What happened two days ago was precisely that, which brings into question the reliability of the guarantees which are brokered through the Egyptians,” Masri says.

He adds, “I think what’s happening now is that the Egyptians are working on some mechanism to restore confidence in this process, probably more robust guarantees for the future.”

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Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com