Israel and Gaza on War Footing After Militants Launch Surprise Assaults: Live Updates

A building on fire in Gedera, Israel, on Saturday.Credit…Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock

It has been years since Israel has experienced the kind of violence taking place on Saturday. But tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have been surging for months, as have warnings of the risk of all-out war.

Most of the recent focus has been on the occupied West Bank, where recurring Israeli military operations have sparked frequent gun battles with Palestinian militants. Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have also fought smaller tit-for-tat engagements.

April: An Israeli police raid at the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem prompted Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. Unusually, militants also fired rockets from Lebanon — across Israel’s volatile northern border — raising fears of a wider war.

The Israeli military responded with airstrikes in southern Lebanon and against Gaza targets belonging to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the coastal enclave. But neither side escalated the violence, and the situation slowly calmed.

May: Israel and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad militant group fought a short battle — the second in less than a year. After the death in an Israeli prison of Khader Adnan, a hunger-striking Palestinian militant, Islamic Jihad launched a barrage of rockets.

A week later, Israeli airstrikes killed three top Islamic Jihad leaders, setting off another round of fighting. The violence lasted only a few days, with Israel killing Islamic Jihad commanders in targeted airstrikes and Palestinian militants firing rocket barrages at Israeli cities. But Hamas, whose capabilities and weapons outstrip those of Islamic Jihad, mostly stayed out of the fighting.

The violence subsided after a cease-fire was mediated by Egypt and the United Nations.

July: The Israeli Army conducted a large-scale incursion in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank, in what it said was an effort to root out Palestinian militants. The operation — which included the most intense airstrikes on the occupied West Bank in nearly two decades, and the dispatching of hundreds of ground troops into Jenin — killed at least 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier, and sent thousands fleeing from their homes.

September: An unusual series of clashes, sometimes violent, took place near the fence that divides Gaza from Israeli territory. According to the Israeli army, Palestinians hurled explosive devices and opened fire on Israeli soldiers. At least one Palestinian was killed in the clashes, and dozens were wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.