In his first comments on the situation in southern Israel, newly installed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday that the IDF would continue to attack terrorists in Gaza. “We have a message for our enemies – anyone who plans to harm us during the day cannot be sure that he will pass the night alive.”
Bennett was referring to the fact that Islamic Jihad military commander Abu al-Ata was killed by a precision IDF strike as he slept in his bedroom. The hit on the terrorist was notable for the fact that it was he and his wife who were killed, while others in the house where the strike occurred were only injured. Images of the house show limited damage – the terrorist’s bedroom alone is targeted and damaged, while the rest of the house is left standing.
The elimination of Abu al-Ata led to a ferocious response by Islamic Jihad, resulting in the firing of nearly 200 rockets at Israel Tuesday – with more fired Wednesday. The IDF has responded with attacks on Islamic Jihad terrorists and military targets. Four terrorists were killed in IDF strikes Wednesday, Gaza sources said. Despite the response, Israel would continue to attack terror targets – and eliminate them as well. “We did it yesterday, and we will not hesitate to do it in the future. We are sending a clear message to our enemies on all fronts with these actions. You were and remain targets.”
News reports said that Abu al-Ata had been warned by Palestinian Authority officials that he was a target of the IDF, and in fact had been since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. In recent weeks, he was informed that there was an active order to eliminate him. Kan News quoted a security source as saying that “Abu al-Ata was aware that he was a target, and for the past week and a half did not leave his house. But he made sure to surround himself with guests, especially women and children, with the knowledge that Israeli forces would not try to hit him with innocent bystanders in the vicinity.
“The window of opportunity opened Monday night as the terrorist was in the room only with his wife,” the source said. “The army took that opportunity to carry out its mission. In the photos, you see just how precise the strike was.”