As many as 150 rockets were launched at Israeli civilian areas by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip this week, following Israel’s assassination of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander Baha Abu al-Ata early Tuesday morning.
Al-Ata was reportedly behind most of the Gazan attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent months, including the Memorial Day rocket attack on southern Israel in May, an Aug. 25 rocket barrage on residents of southern Israel, sniper fire on Israeli soldiers and plans to conduct future attacks.
According to the Israeli military, while the country’s Iron Dome air-defense system intercepted many of the incoming rockets, direct hits were recorded in Netivot, Sderot, Rishon Letzion and Ashdod, while sirens were triggered in Tel Aviv, Modi’in, Holon and Bat Yam. The rocket fire is expected to continue, possibly for “several days,” according to the military.
Al-Ata was directly responsible for hundreds of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, according to the IDF, and targeted because “his next attack was imminent.”
His refusal to recognize the Hamas-Israel truce meant that he was an enemy not only of Israel, but also a disruptive thorn in the side of Hamas.
In a joint Israeli Air Force and Shin Bet intelligence agency operation, the surgical strike killed Al-Ata and reportedly his wife by a missile that entered only the floor of the building on which they were staying.
Al-Ata usually took great care to travel secretly, surrounded by human shields, as he took advantage of Israel’s rules of engagement. But he erred, staying the night unprotected in a room, and the Israeli defense establishment seized the opportunity.
“Officially, he was the commander of the northern brigade of the PIJ. But actually, his influence extended far beyond northern Gaza,” IDF Spokesman Lt. Gen. Jonathan Conricus said.
By BWC Staff (combined sources)