BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:15 P.M.) – The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killed the senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Baha’a Abu Al-Ata in Gaza last night.
The IDF spokesman said that the forces targeted al-Ata because he was “a ticking bomb” and was allegedly plotting “imminent” attacks on Israel.
Israel Radio said, citing senior military officials, that the IDF had managed to target the specific room where al-Ata was sleeping, and therefore claim they were able to avoid destroying the entire building.
“Senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata was targeted overnight in Gaza. He was responsible for many terrorist attacks and the firing of rockets at Israel in recent months and had intended to carry out imminent attacks. The IDF action was recommended by the IDF Chief-of-Staff and ISA Director and was approved by the Prime Minister and Defense Minister after it had been presented to – and approved by – the Security Cabinet”, the prime minister’s office tweeted.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the decision to target al-Ata was taken Sunday by the cabinet.
In response, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad forces unleashed a barrage of rockets into Israel, prompting the IDF to activate the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
According to reports, sirens sounded in the cities of Rishon LeTsiyon, Holon and Sderot, along with the area surrounding the Gaza Strip.
While the IDF has yet to confirm or deny the interception of rockets, the military did urge residents of southern Israel to stay close to bomb shelters as the region was on high alert following the operation, The Times of Israel reported.
In a parallel development Reuters reported citing a statement issued by the PIJ that a top Islamic Jihad commander, identified as Akram al-Ajouri, had allegedly been targeted in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Tuesday. The statement didn’t immediately blame anyone for the incident; the IDF is said to have declined to comment.