See a timeline of events during the most recent Israel-Gaza flareup
This article was compiled by David Legmann, UJS’s Israel Engagement sabb
Following Israel’s arrest of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group member in the West Bank and subsequent threats of violence from the group’s Gaza branch, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) launched an air-based military campaign targeting PIJ in Gaza codenamed “Operation Breaking Dawn”. This sparked the deadliest flareup between Gaza-based terrorists and the IDF since the May 2021 crisis.
Below is a summary of the events.
1 August: The IDF arrests Bassam al-Saadi, PIJ’s West Bank commander, in Jenin. Amidst an intense exchange of gunfire during the operation, a 17-year-old Palestinian youth is killed.
2 August: As PIJ threatens retaliation against Gaza-adjacent Israeli communities for al-Saadi’s arrest, the IDF fears imminent anti-tank missile or sniper attacks and places border territories in the western Negev under partial curfew. Both of Israel’s main border crossings into Gaza, Kerem Shalom and Erez, are closed, halting the flow of workers, goods and humanitarian aid into and out of Gaza.
5 August: With Israeli fears of terror attacks growing as the PIJ continues vowing to avenge al-Saadi’s arrest, the IDF launches “Operation Breaking Dawn”. Its stated aim is the pre-emptive elimination of PIJ’s terror threat, and to that end, neutralisation of senior Gazan PIJ commanders.
5-7 August: The operation continues for 66 hours, until a ceasefire is agreed beginning at 11:30 pm Israel time on Sunday. During this time, over 1,100 rockets are fired into Israel, most of them by PIJ. The Iron Dome intercepts 96% of them, with little damage and no deaths on the Israeli side. However, 47 Israelis are injured (mostly lightly) and millions forced to scramble to air raid shelters. Gaza’s governing terror group Hamas, likely seeing interest in allowing Israel to weaken Islamist rival PIJ, stays out of the fighting. At least 45 Palestinians are killed amidst Israeli airstrikes; close to half of these are combatants (PIJ/Hamas claims 15, IDF claims 24), including both PIJ’s north Gaza and south Gaza commanders.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry counts 15 children among the dead. The IDF claims most Gazan civilian deaths are the result of PIJ rocket misfires, estimated to have numbered around 200, rather than Israeli airstrikes. In one incident, 4 children were killed at a residence in the city of Jabaliya. The IDF produced footage showing a PIJ rocket misfiring around the time of the event. Another incident, the first child death reported in Gaza, involved the killing of a 5-year-old girl amidst IDF airstrikes.
8 August: As tensions cool down in the ceasefire’s aftermath, Israel reopens Gaza border crossings, reducing serious pressures on Gaza’s critical infrastructure. Meanwhile, communities near Gaza remain under partial lockdown as a precaution.