Israeli forces killed Baha abu Al-Atta, a field commander for the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, in a predawn strike on his home in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, officials on both sides said.
At least one other person, a woman, was also killed in the blast that ripped through the building in Gaza City's Shejaia district, medical officials said. Two others were wounded.
In a statement, the Israeli military said Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had authorized the operation against Al-Atta, accusing him of carrying out a recent series of cross-border rocket, drone and sniper attacks and planning more.
“A building in the Gaza Strip, in which the Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior leader Baha Abu al-Ata stayed in, was attacked,” Israel’s military said in a statement, calling it a joint operation between the army and Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service.
“Abu Al-Atta was responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip and was a ticking bomb,” the statement said, accusing Al-Atta of planning “imminent terror attacks through various means.”
An Islamic Jihad statement confirmed the death of al-Atta, who it said had been in the midst of “heroic jihadist action.”
“Our inevitable retaliation will rock the Zionist entity,” the statement said, referring to Israel.
The Islamic Jihad group vowed to respond strongly to the attack on its field commander, an Al Arabiya correspondent cited the group as saying.
A number of rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip onto Israeli settlements following the incident, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported citing Gaza sources, as sirens sounded in the cities.
The Israeli army confirmed, stating that Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip pounded the Jewish state with “substantial” rocket fire Tuesday after Israel killed a commander of Islamic Jihad.
“There is substantial fire,” army spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists in a conference call.
Rockets struck the south of Israel and warning sirens wailed in Tel Aviv, although there were no immediate reports of hits on the seaside city.
“We are preparing for a number of days of fighting,” Conricus said.
The Israeli army has blocked all roads around the border of the Gaza Strip, according to the Al Arabiya correspondent, who added that warning sirens sounded in Tel Aviv.
Islamic Jihad, in its own statement, confirmed al-Atta's death and threatened retaliation against Israel.
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