IDF Strikes in Gaza after Islamic Jihad Resumes Rocket Fire

Over 250 rockets were launched at southern and central Israel in the past two days. The latest flare-up follows the targeted killing of senior PIJ commander Baha Abu Al-Ata early Tuesday morning

Israeli forces strike in Gaza (Photo: AP)

After a quiet night, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resumed rocket fire into southern and central Israel on Wednesday morning.

IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters that the relative calm overnight was not indicative of a ceasefire, saying it was more likely that Islamic Jihad sought to ration its weapon stockpile so as to stretch the fire for several days.

“Palestinian Islamic Jihad resumed firing this morning, and the group intends to fire rockets in a way similar to what we saw yesterday,” Zilberman said Wednesday morning. “The Islamic Jihad is being meticulous and managing its stockpiles for several days of fighting and is keeping all their options on the table.”

According to the IDF, over 250 rockets were launched throughout Tuesday and Wednesday morning by terror groups in Gaza, mainly by the PIJ.

The military said that 90% of rockets heading towards populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, adding that of the rockets not intercepted, 60% of hit open areas.

In response to the rocket fire, the IDF launched three waves of strikes on the Gaza Strip, hitting dozens of Islamic Jihad targets. Among the targets were training compounds, including one used by PIJ’s naval commando unit, the shaft of an offensive terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip and a tunnel-digging site in the central Gaza Strip, as well as several underground weapons manufacturing sites, and weapon storage facilities, and observation posts.

Israel has not attacked any Hamas targets during the recent flare-up, in an effort to prevent that organization from joining the fight. 

The latest escalation followed the elimination of Baha Abu Al-Ata, the commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the northern Gaza Strip, in a targeted strike.

“Abu Al-Ata 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 on Tuesday, accusing the senior commander of planning “imminent terror attacks through various means.”

In a joint press briefing with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and the head of the ISA Nadav Argaman on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Israel is not interested in escalation, but we will do everything necessary to defend ourselves.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, on the other hand, vowed to avenge the killing al-Ata and declared it was preparing for war.

 

[Sources: The Times of Israel, Haaretz, Israel Hayom, The Jewish Press]