The Israeli Air Force conducted a targeted killing of the commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the northern Gaza Strip, the military said Tuesday.
According to the IDF, Baha Abu Al-Ata was “directly responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.” The military blamed him for recent rocket, drone, and sniper attacks against Israel, as well as attempted infiltrations into the country.
“Abu Al-Atta was responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip and was a ticking bomb,” the IDF said in a statement, accusing Al-Ata of planning “imminent terror attacks through various means.”
Baha Abu Al-Ata (Source: Twitter)
According to IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, the military has been “waiting for the opportune moment to conduct this surgical strike” for about a week.
Zilberman stressed that Israel is “not going back to targeted killings,” emphasizing that this was an isolated incident. “The IDF is not interested in escalation, but we are prepared to continue to work against anyone who tries to compromise Israel’s security.”
Shortly after the attack, rocket sirens sounded throughout southern and central Israel as dozens of projectiles were fired from Gaza. Several missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.
IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said that Israel had come under “substantial fire” from Gaza and that the IDF was “preparing for a number of days of fighting.”
Houses in Sderot and Netivot were hit directly, but no property damage was reported. Additionally, a rocket hit a major highway near Gan Yavne in Southern Israel. Nobody was hurt.
Rocket damage near Gan Yavne (Photo: Israel Police)
Schools in Israeli cities and communities near the Gaza Strip were shuttered in the wake of the incident. The military also closed some roads near the Gaza Strip, as well as open areas exposed to attack from the enclave. The rail service to the area has been suspended as well.
The Iran-backed PIJ vowed retaliation for the attack, saying Israel has “declared war” and “opened the gates of hell.”
Hamas, the ruling party in the Strip, threatened to avenge the targeted killing, saying the attack “will not pass without a punishment.”
The terror group said that Israel “bears all the consequences and results from this dangerous targeting and escalation.”