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Operation Breaking Dawn was a three-day Israeli military operation targeting Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip, lasting from the afternoon of Friday, August 5 to the night of Sunday, August 7. 

It consisted of Israeli airstrikes on PIJ military and personnel targets in the Gaza Strip, to which PIJ responded by launching rockets at Israeli cities.

The goal of the operation was to weaken PIJ’s capabilities in order to prevent the terror organization from carrying out an attack against Israel, along with re-establishing Israeli deterrence. According to Israeli intelligence, PIJ was planning to use anti-tank missiles and snipers to target Israeli civilians near the Gaza border.

Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization that governs Gaza, did not participate in the conflict. Israel refrained from provoking Hamas in order to prevent a larger-scale war, while Hamas had no desire to hamper Gaza reconstruction or its own efforts to renew its capabilities following the May 2021 conflict.


Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an Iran-backed terror organization whose goal is to annihilate Israel and create an Islamic Palestinian state. It is based in the Gaza Strip and operates terror cells in the West Bank. 

The escalation that led to Operation Breaking Dawn began on August 1, when Israel arrested PIJ West Bank chief Bassem Saadi in Jenin.

Following the arrest, PIJ released a statement calling for Israel to release Saadi and suggesting the organization was preparing to retaliate. Israel proceeded to a partial lockdown in the Gaza envelope for the next few days to protect Israeli civilians from an attack, closing roads and railways and canceling social gatherings. 

In addition, Israel closed the Erez crossing for civilians and Kerem Shalom crossing for goods. Gaza’s sole power plant ceased operations on August 6 due to lack of fuel amid the shutdown.

Israeli Airstrikes

In the afternoon of Friday, August 5, with a PIJ attack appearing increasingly imminent in Israeli intelligence assessments and southern Israel at a standstill, the IDF announced Operation Breaking Dawn and began to carry out airstrikes against PIJ across Gaza. 

Over the course of the weekend, Israel also arrested 20 Palestinians in the West Bank, 19 of whom were members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Targets: PIJ terror tunnels, weapon storage facilities, military posts, anti-tank missiles, combatants, and senior officials
Total PIJ targets struck: 170

PIJ commanders eliminated: Tayseer Jabari (northern Gaza commander), Khaled Mansour (southern Gaza commander), Rafat al-Zamli (rocket unit commander)

Palestinians killed: 35 according to Israel, 44 according to the Palestinian Health Ministry

  • Israel has said that 11 Palestinian civilians were killed in airstrikes intended to target PIJ militants.
  • According to Israel, 15 of these Palestinian casualties were the result of PIJ rockets that misfired.

Palestinians injured: 360 according to the Palestinian Health Ministry

PIJ Rockets

In response to Israel’s airstrikes, PIJ launched rockets at Israel’s cities over the course of the three-day conflict.

Rockets launched: 1,100

Rockets intercepted by the Iron Dome: 380 (95% of those that would hit populated areas)

Rockets that hit within Gaza: 200

Israelis killed: 0

Israelis injured: 31 taken to the hospital

Palestinians killed by PIJ rockets: 15 according to Israel


At 11:30pm local time on Sunday, August 7, an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire came into effect, ending the fighting and bringing Operation Breaking Dawn to a close.

PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah has claimed that Israel had agreed to release Saadi as a condition of the ceasefire, and that its attacks would resume if that condition is not met. According to Israel, the release of prisoners was not part of the agreement. 

Despite this contradictory messaging, the ceasefire is expected to hold. 

Since the implementation of the ceasefire, Israel lifted security restrictions, reopening roads and resuming trains in the Gaza Envelope. The Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings have also reopened—resuming the entry of goods and the exit of the 14,000 Gazans who hold permits to work in Israel.


From Israel’s perspective, Operation Breaking Dawn succeeded.

  • Israel significantly weakened PIJ, removed the imminent threat to Israeli civilians, and established deterrence.
  • Hamas remained on the sidelines and the conflict did not spread to other theaters, such as the West Bank, East Jerusalem, or Israel’s mixed cities. 
  • Israel received rhetorical support from its allies and minimal condemnations from the international community, in contrast to previous Gaza conflicts.

The operation was also a personal success for Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who had yet to face a security challenge and has no operational military background.

In the long term, the operation will not change the status quo around Gaza.

  • While the operation was a setback for PIJ, it is expected to rebuild its capabilities. 
  • Hamas, also a terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction, continues to rule Gaza. 
  • Gaza’s nearly 2 million residents, most of whom cannot leave the Strip, continue to face overlapping humanitarian crises with no end in sight.
  • Israelis near the Gaza border will continue to live in fear of rockets, missiles, and snipers, and another confrontation will inevitably come. 
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