Islamic Jihad has fired at least 360 rockets into Israel from Gaza since Tuesday, the Israeli army said Wednesday night, in response to the assassination of one of the militant group's senior commanders.
On Tuesday, the commander, Bahaa Abu al-Ata, and his wife were killed when their Gaza home was targeted by an Israeli airstrike. The army says Abu al-Ata was responsible for several rocket attacks against Israel, and was planning a massive operation against the country.
After Abu al-Ata's death was reported, Islamic Jihad began firing rockets into Israel, and Israel responded by ramping up airstrikes against Islamic Jihad targets across the Gaza Strip. At least 26 Palestinians have died in the fighting, including a 7-year-old boy. Islamic Jihad is backed by Iran, and calls for the destruction of Israel.
The militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, has so far stayed out of the matter. Egyptian mediators are trying to arrange a truce, The Associated Press reports, and U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said the organization is "working to urgently de-escalate the situation." On Tuesday, Syrian officials said an Israeli airstrike targeting an Islamic Jihad militant in Damascus missed him, but killed two of his relatives. Catherine Garcia
The USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force have been deployed to the Middle East in order to "send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force," National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a statement released Sunday night.
A U.S. official told ABC News that it was decided on Sunday that the aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force should be deployed, following "clear indications" that Iran and Iranian proxies were planning for a possible attack against American forces in the region.
"It's something we've been working on for a little while," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Sunday. "It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians, and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests." Catherine Garcia