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BACKGROUND: Operation Breaking Dawn

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

Photo by Attia Muhammed/Flash90

On August 5th, 2022, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a series of strikes targeting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist organization in Gaza. This military operation, which the IDF has called Breaking Dawn, came after days of PIJ threatening to bomb Israeli cities and towns. From August 5-7, PIJ and other terrorist groups fired nearly 1,100 mortars, rockets, and missiles at Israel, while the IDF said it hit roughly 170 PIJ targets in Gaza. Late at night on August 7th, a ceasefire was declared and continues to be in effect as of this writing.

Much of the information below is based on breaking news reports about this ongoing situation. We will update this backgrounder as additional facts and context become available.

What is Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)?

PIJ is an internationally recognized terrorist organization. Its main areas of operation are Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria. Backed by the Iranian and Syrian regimes, PIJ is the second-largest terrorist group in Gaza after Hamas, which rules the territory. PIJ seeks Israel’s destruction and is directly responsible for murdering many innocent Israeli civilians through suicide bombings, rocketfire, shootings, and other attacks.

Facts and context about the current round of violence:

  • On Tuesday, August 2nd, Israel arrested Bassam al-Saadi, the head of PIJ in the West Bank. Al-Saadi was reportedly leading a military build-up in the region and weapons were found during his arrest.

  • Following al-Saadi’s arrest, PIJ in Gaza began threatening to attack areas where the vast majority of Israelis live, such as Tel Aviv. On Wednesday, August 3rd, a senior PIJ official in Gaza stated that they, “have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons.”

  • In response, Israel blocked off roads along the Israel-Gaza border and warned Israeli civilians to remain inside as much as possible, to stay safe from potential terrorist attacks.

  • Israeli leaders stated that they would not allow terrorists to hold millions of Israelis hostage with threats to carry out attacks across the country. Egypt reportedly tried to mediate between Israel and PIJ, but failed to convince PIJ to back down.

  • On Friday, Aug 5th, the IDF began to strike PIJ in Gaza. One strike targeted an individual apartment and killed Tayseer Jabari, PIJ’s commander in northern Gaza, among others. Another strike reportedly killed PIJ operatives who were on their way to the border to attack Israelis.

  • There are reports that at least one civilian, a five year old girl, was among those killed in Israel's initial strikes against PIJ. This is a tragedy that should never happen. While the IDF’s policy is to go out of its way to avoid harm to innocent people, this has proved extremely difficult because terrorist groups like PIJ embed themselves among Palestinian civilians. They put their own people in harm’s way, as they attack or threaten innocent Israelis.

  • As of August 7th, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza claims at least 44 Palestinians were killed and 360 wounded. Terrorist groups have publicly identified 15 of their fighters as being among the dead, while the IDF believes this number is significantly higher. The IDF says 35 people in Gaza were killed, including fifteen civilians who were hit by terrorist rockets that fell short. There is video evidence that at least one rocket misfired by terrorists killed several Palestinian civilians, including children.

  • PIJ and other terrorist groups fired roughly 1,100 mortars, rockets, and missiles at Israeli homes and families during Operation Breaking Dawn. These attacks largely missed their target or were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. 200 reportedly fell short and hit Gaza itself. However, at least 47 people in Israel have been injured and millions were forced to spend their nights either in or near a bomb shelter.

  • In response to the barrages of rocketfire, the IDF says it hit approximately 170 PIJ targets in Gaza. These reportedly include weapons production sites, warehouses, and rocket launching positions.

  • As of this writing, Hamas has made statements supporting attacks against Israeli civilians, but reportedly avoided getting directly involved in the fighting.

  • Egypt worked to mediate and bring about an end to the current round of violence. A ceasefire between Israel and PIJ officially came into effect at 11:30pm on August 7th. Terrorists fired rockets at Israel as late as 20 minutes after this deadline, but the ceasefire appears to be holding since then.

We hope this round of violence has come to an end, for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike.


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