Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and ISA Chief Nadav Argaman addressed the elimination of al-Ata in a joint press briefing.
“Over the last year, this arch-terrorist was behind most of the terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said. “He initiated and planned many terror attacks. He fired hundreds of rockets at the [Israeli] border towns. He was a ticking time bomb.”
“Terrorists think they can hit civilians and hide behind civilians,” the prime minister added. “We showed that we can hit the terrorist with minimal damage to civilians. Anyone who thinks they can hit our civilians and get away with it is wrong. If you hit us, we will hit you.”
Netanyahu said Israel does not seek to escalate the situation, but will do “what is necessary to defend ourselves. “This could take time. What is needed is stamina and cool-headedness.”
“We are not interested in an escalation but we are ready – on the ground, in the air, and at sea.” Lt. Gen. Kochavi reiterated. “If we need to, we will move to targeted assassinations,” the senior officer warned.
Referring to the elimination of al-Ata, Kochavi said, “In recent days he was the one working to perpetrate attacks against Israel. We tried to foil his efforts in different, various ways but without success. We then recommended a targeted assassination.”
The head of the Israel Security Agency Nadav Argaman said that the killing of al-Ata was carried out at the best time from an operational perspective.
“This elimination was made possible as a result of very intense intelligence work. It was a very precise strike that only hit the intended target without harming innocent civilians,” said the ISA chief.
[Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Israel National News, The Jewish Press]